West Nile Spreads West Toward South Plains - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/6/02

West Nile Spreads West Toward South Plains

The West Nile virus is spreading west across the United States, infecting and even killing people and animals. More than 100 human cases of the virus have been confirmed across the U S with ten in Texas alone.

The worst of it seems to be in Louisiana where on Tuesday a fifth person died from the disease. In a sign that it is spreading west across Texas, health officials confirmed a bird in central Texas died from the disease, and according to the Lubbock Health Department the West Nile Virus is heading this way.

The mosquitos we all swat around are to blame for the West Nile epidemic. It's been around for years, but this year it's spreading rapidly. The disease is caused when a bird gets infected, then mosquitos feed on the dead birds and when those mosquitos bite people they get infected with the disease.

The West Nile Virus has infected more than 100 people this year in the United States, and according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there's no stopping it. "It's traveling west and we expect it, we're gonna get it we're in the path we are gonna get it, it might be late in the fall this year it might be spring of next year, but I think it will be here," said Joe Vargas, the Vector Control Supervisor for the City says Lubbock.

Joe Vargas, the Vector Control Supervisor for the City says Lubbock is taking precautions. He says our mosquito level is relatively low this year. "We have seven chicken flocks around the county of Lubbock and we take blood samples from them once a month, in fact their doing it today and we send those to TDH and get confirmation from them how their negative or positive," Vargas said.

If the chickens test positive, they are re-tested. Vargas says they are spraying in the City and County regularly but they do breed here. "We have about 26 different mosquitos here in Lubbock and out of the 26 about five or six of them are known to carry the virus, so we do have the vector of the mosquito that carries the West Nile."

So here's what you can do:

  • Get rid of any containers outside holding water.
  • Treat your pool properly.
  • Avoid standing water.
  • Wear insect repellents.
  • Cover your arms and legs when outside.

If you get bit by a mosquito don't panic, only 1% of mosquitoes carry the virus. However common symptoms of the disease are flu-like, including fever, headache, light headed, or confusion.

If you see mosquitoes and would like to have them sprayed, or if you have any questions about the disease you can call the City of Lubbock Health Department at (806) 775-2928.

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