The City of Lubbock Health Department sent out an alert Thursday saying they have diagnosed the first confirmed case of human West Nile Virus in Lubbock this year. An elderly man over the age of 70 was infected with the virus, but he is now recovering. The Health Department is also waiting on results to confirm two other possible cases.
The Health Department's public health coordinator Beckie Brawley says the elderly man has not traveled outside of Lubbock so they believe he was infected here in town. She also say his case was one of the more severe West Nile cases.
"Most of the time they're hospitalized for supportive treatment such as fluids and medications to relieve pain and the fever," Brawley said. "The more severe stages can affect brain tissue. You may have vision problems, stiff neck and you can even sometimes have paralysis on certain parts of the body."
This is the only confirmed case of West Nile Virus in Lubbock and Lubbock County, but across Texas the virus has swept like wildfire. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 537 cases of West Nile Virus. No other state has even reached 100 cases. There have also been 19 deaths in Texas, but doctors are saying don't panic, just prevent it.
"I think people have just become complacent about protecting themselves against mosquitoes because there weren't any. Now suddenly this year the rains come back," Doctor Ronald Warner said. "This is a very preventable illness. The risk is always there so you should always use mosquito repellent. Just like in your automobile the risk is always there; you need to use your seatbelt."
The City of Lubbock released the following in their alert on how to protect yourself:
Remember the 4 Ds when enjoying outdoor activities.
Dawn and Dusk, DEET, Drain, Dress
1. Avoid being out when mosquitoes feed – usually at Dawn and Dusk.
2. Wear protective clothing. Long sleeves and pants when outdoors. (DRESS)
3. Use appropriate repellant and according to instructions on the label. Spray clothing with repellent as mosquitoes can bite through thin fabric. Apply repellent to exposed skin. CDC guidelines recommend repellents containing up to 35% DEET for adults, up to 10% DEET for children. Repellents can irritate the eyes and mouth so avoid applying to children's hands.
4. Avoid perfume – they attract mosquitoes.
Protecting the Home:
1. Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from indoors.
2. 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)
3. Keep yard mowed. Mosquitoes hide in tall brush and grasses.
4. Residents are asked to report problem areas with mosquitos by calling the Mosquito Hotline at 775-3110
Consult your physician for any illness that you suspect may be "West Nile Virus".
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