Public health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of illness caused by West Nile virus in 2022. Dallas County Health and Human Services reported that a resident of Dallas County has been diagnosed with West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
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 the more serious West Nile neuroinvasive disease that can cause neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and even death.
The Texas Department of State Health Services urges people to not give mosquitoes a biting chance by following these steps 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 out 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 112 cases of West Nile disease in Texas last year and 14 deaths (Cases and attributed deaths for 2021 are provisional.) Over the last five years, Texas has had 547 cases and 61 deaths. Mosquitoes remain active in much of Texas into November and December.