Human Case of West Nile Virus Confirmed in Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


Human Case of West Nile Virus Confirmed in Lubbock

A human case of West Nile Virus was confirmed Friday by the City of Lubbock Health Department.

A second suspected case of the disease did not test positive for acute West Nile Virus but tests showed evidence of prior infection.

West Nile Virus mainly infects birds, but is also the cause of a number of conditions in humans, horses, and some other mammals. It is transmitted by bites of infected mosquitoes. It cannot be spread from bird to man, horse to man or person-to-person.

Few mosquitoes are infected with West Nile Virus and less than one percent of people who bitten by an infected mosquito become severely ill (1 out of 150). There is no cure for West Nile Virus. In 2006 there were five cases of West Nile Virus in Lubbock County.

"The West Nile Virus season had a late start this year, and to date, it has been mild," said Tommy Camden, director of the City of Lubbock Health Department. "However, residents should take precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes."

Citizens can reduce exposure to infected mosquitoes by following four simple steps:

  • Avoid being out when mosquitoes feed - usually at dawn and dusk.
  • Wear protective clothing. Long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
  • 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. CDC guidelines recommend repellents containing up to 35 percent DEET for adults, up to 10 percent DEET for children. Repellents can irritate the eyes and mouth so avoid applying to children's hands.
  • Avoid perfume - it attracts mosquitoes.

In addition, residents are encouraged to take the following precautions to protect their home:

  • Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from indoors.
  • 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.
  • Keep yard mowed. Mosquitoes hide in tall brush and grasses.
  • Residents are asked to report dead birds by calling the City of Lubbock Mosquito Hotline at 775-3110.

According to Camden, city staff is also working to eliminate the public's risk of exposure to mosquitoes.

"We have been spraying for mosquitoes for several weeks and have increased targeted spraying around areas where West Nile Virus positive mosquito pools have been detected," he said.

Symptoms of the disease 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. Symptoms can develop within three to 14 days and can last from three to six days. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe West Nile Virus symptoms. Citizens should consult a physician for any illness that may be suspected to be West Nile Virus.

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