Public health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of illness caused by West Nile virus in 2021. The disease case, reported by Dallas County Health and Human Services, occurred in a resident of Dallas County.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Most people exposed to the virus don’t get sick, but about 20 percent develop symptoms like headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. In a very small proportion, less than one percent, the virus affects the nervous system, leading to a more serious illness that can cause neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and even death.
The Texas Department of State Health Services urges people to declare WAR on mosquitoes to protect themselves and their families from West Nile and other diseases spread by mosquitoes.
- WEAR long sleeves and pants. Create a barrier to mosquito bites by covering up.
- APPLY insect repellent. Use EPA-registered repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or 2-undecanone.
- REMOVE standing water. Emptying water that accumulates in toys, tires, trash cans, buckets, clogged rain gutters and plant pots will deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs and reproduce.
People should also keep mosquitoes out of their homes by using air conditioning and making sure window and door screens are in good repair. DSHS urges people with West Nile symptoms to contact their health care provider and mention any exposure to mosquitoes.
There were 122 cases of West Nile disease in Texas last year and 24 deaths. (Cases and attributed deaths data for 2020 are provisional.) Over the last five years, Texas has had 805 cases and 63 deaths. Mosquitoes remain active in much of Texas into November and December.