Two more positive West Nile cases have been confirmed in Montgomery County by officials, one being involved in a fatality. West Nile was only a contributing factor to the death of this male in his 80’s; the other infected is a female in her 40’s, who is currently in stable condition. Overall, this confirms eight cases of West Nile virus in Montgomery County this season, and a total of 16 cases have been confirmed statewide.
“Both were residents of South Montgomery County. The Public Health District is urging Montgomery County residents to use insect repellent with DEET every time they go outside, wear long sleeves at dawn and dusk and make sure screens are on all windows and doors to keep mosquitoes from entering their home,” said Jennifer Nichols-Contella, Public Health spokeswoman.
With the increase in mosquito borne illnesses in our area including the Chikungunya virus that resulted in the death of a teenage boy in Montgomery County last month, it is important that everyone contributes in making their homes less attractive to mosquitoes.
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In 2013 Montgomery County had three confirmed West Nile virus cases, the first of which was confirmed in August. In 2012, seventeen West Nile cases were confirmed in the county. Those infected will usually experience flu-like symptoms about five to 15 days after being bitten. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle weakness, fatigue and nausea, which is severe cases, can progress to seizures, paralysis and even death. Those with weakened immune systems or who are either very young or over the age of 50 are the most at risk.
Now that the 2014 West Nile Virus season is upon us, Montgomery County continues its year-round efforts to locate and identify areas of the county where pools of West Nile positive mosquitoes exist. Keeping the focus on the areas where positive mosquitoes have been discovered and eliminating their breeding sites will reduce the mosquito population and minimize the number of human West Nile virus cases. There have been positive cases of West Nile in mosquitoes tested in South County with the majority of the positive tests in The Woodlands Township. As soon as positive mosquito test results are received, Precinct 3 Mosquito Abatement initiates a treatment protocol that includes sending crews to the infected areas to spray the vicinity including storm drains, catch basins and driveway culverts during the day as well as road and county right-of-ways at night.
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the West Nile virus is spread through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes get the virus from birds and then pass it on to other birds, animals and people. There have been no concerns related to dead birds and no birds have tested positive for West Nile in Montgomery County. Up to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms. However, some infections can result in serious illness or death. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are two forms of the illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND) and West Nile fever (WN fever). The symptoms of severe infection from West Nile neuroinvasive disease include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. West Nile fever is the milder form of the illness. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands. DSHS reported 183 human cases of West Nile in Texas last year and 14 deaths. The Montgomery County Public Health District suggests that anyone who shows similar symptoms should see their healthcare provider right away.
“Prevention is a key component,” said, Dr. Syed Ibrahim, Chief Epidemiologist at the Montgomery County Public Health District. “Residents need to wear protective clothing when outdoors, and make their home unattractive to mosquitoes by emptying containers that may collect rainwater and sprinkler water,” said, Ibrahim. Experts believe that the West Nile Virus is a seasonal epidemic of the summer months, just like influenza is to winter. However, West Nile virus can be transmitted year-round whenever mosquitoes are biting, which is why it is best to protect yourself all year.
For more information about West Nile Virus and a West Nile fact sheet, please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services Website at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westnile/