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Lubbock Health Department warns after mosquito samples test positive for West Nile Virus

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It seems we’ve hardly talked about mosquitoes since COVID-19 flew into our world, but three people in Lubbock county are now believed to be infected with West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitos.

The health department confirmed today that mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile in south and central Lubbock, and the director, Katherine Wells, says the timing is a little unexpected this year.

“We typically identify West Nile at the end of August or in September, so to identify the first positive human case in October is later than what we normally see.”

St. Louis Encephalitis was also spotted in some mosquito sampling in Lubbock county ... but West Nile is the only of the two that has also been detected in people.

Neither virus is spread from person to person, only through mosquitos.

Like Covid, the symptoms may appear to be flu-like, which is why the health department wants physicians to be on the lookout for West Nile, and St. Louis Encephalitis as well.

Meanwhile, the city is increasing its spraying across the community and especially where they found the positive mosquito samples, and we are asked to do our part by wearing insect repellant with Deet when mosquitos are out and dumping any standing water where mosquitos could breed.

Below you can read more information released today by the Lubbock Health Department.

The City of Lubbock Public Health Department has confirmed West Nile Virus (WNV) and St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) in Lubbock. Each year vector control places mosquito traps throughout the county. The Biological Threat Research Lab at Texas Tech University then tests the mosquitos for disease. The laboratory notified the Public Health Department that some of the mosquitoes tested positive for WNV and SLEV. In addition, the health department is currently investigating multiple cases of West Nile Virus in local residents. Vector control will increase spraying in the community targeting areas around positive traps. Everyone is encouraged to take steps to reduce mosquito bites.  

WNV and SLEV is a disease of birds. Humans are 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 humans through a mosquito bite. These diseases cannot be spread person-to-person.

Symptoms can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People will typically recover on their own. Some central nervous system infections may develop and few will experience additional symptoms of neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to these infections. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection or St. Louis encephalitis, they should contact their healthcare provider.

It is important for individuals to continue to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. These include:

  • Wearing an EPA registered insect repellant
  • Covering up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Keeping mosquitoes out of living areas by using air conditioning or intact window screens
  • Limiting outdoor activities during peak mosquito times
  • Dumping standing water around your home

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