By Karin McCay| email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) –There were no cases in this area last year, but health officials report that West Nile Virus is here now. They have confirmed one case in Lubbock County and are checking another case here they call suspicious. Dr. Ron Warner, an Infectious Disease Specialist at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center says it only takes one mosquito infected with West Nile to give it to a person. "If someone has a severe headache and a fever, certainly if they are feeling like they had a stiff neck, or any back pain, maybe a rash on the arms or the trunk, they should go see a physician." Dr. Warner adds West Nile symptoms can develop within a couple days or a couple of weeks after a bite from an infected mosquito.
Remember, he says, this potentially fatal illness is preventable simply by wearing a mosquito repellent. The virus can not be passed from person to person, only from birds to mosquitos, then from mosquitos to either humans or horses.
In 2003, there were more than a hundred cases of West Nile in Lubbock County. This year, there have been just 7 cases in all of Texas. However, Dr. Warner says the fact that we know there is at least one infected mosquito in this area means there is the potential for many more cases.
The following information comes from a news release from the Lubbock City Health Department:West Nile Virus is now an established threat to humans, horses and birds in the South Plains area, and residents need to take precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. WNV is a disease of birds.
Humans and horses get exposed to the virus when they are bitten by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. The infected mosquitoes become the link (vector) that spreads the disease from birds to man or horse through a mosquito bite. WNV cannot be spread from bird to man, horse to man or person-to-person. Few mosquitoes are infected with WNV. Less than 1% of people who get bitten and become ill will get severely ill (1 out of 150). There is no cure for WNV.
Symptoms of WNV can be mild to severe, starting with fever, and any of the following: weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, headache, muscle aches, rash and swollen glands. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe WNV symptoms.
Symptoms can develop within 2 to 15 days and in some people can last for several weeks.
Prevention is key in eliminating the risk of exposure to mosquitoes.
Citizens can reduce exposure with the following activities:
Remember the 4 Ds when enjoying outdoor activities - Dawn and Dusk,
DEET, Drain, Dress:
* Avoid being out when mosquitoes feed - usually at Dawn and Dusk.
* Wear protective clothing. Long sleeves and pants when outdoors. (DRESS)
* Use appropriate repellant according to instructions on the label. Spray
clothing with repellent as mosquitoes can bite through thin fabric.
Apply repellent to exposed skin. Repellents can irritate the eyes and
mouth so avoid applying to children's hands.
* Avoid perfume - they attract mosquitoes.
Protecting the Home:
* Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out.
* Get rid of standing water around the house. Mosquitoes need water to
breed. Empty plant saucers, pet dishes, and any containers, such as
old tires that have collected water. Change the water in kiddie pools
and birdbaths daily. (DRAIN)
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