What You Should Know About West Nile Virus

The Texas Department of Public Safety has reported more than 300 cases of West Nile Virus in Texas in 2012. One of those cases was reported in Bexar County. The deaths of seven people were linked to West Nile Virus. We are providing the following information to help you and your family avoid exposure to West Nile Virus.

Infection of humans with the West Nile Virus occurs from biting mosquitoes, which pick up the virus after feeding on birds and mammals. While the vast majority of cases are mild and clear on their own, West Nile can be serious and even fatal if it invades the nervous system.

Symptoms can range from fever, headache, body ache, nausea and drowsiness in the mild form, to stiff neck, visual problems, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss and seizures in the serious form. To avoid West Nile Virus, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend the following actions: empty any standing water, drain children’s wading pools, and change the water in flower pots, bird baths and water bowls for pets. Experts also recommend using insect repellants, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside and everyone should remain indoors at dusk and dawn — prime time for mosquitoes.

The Texas Department of Health anticipates 1,800 cases this year with a mortality rate of 10%.

Remember the 4 Ds for Prevention:

  • Drain any standing water
  • Dress in long sleeves/pants
  • Dusk to Dawn mosquitoes are out; Stay inside!
  • DEET: Some mosquito repellents contain this ingredient, any product above 20% will last approximately five hours. Read package instructions for use on children.

A more natural product is insect repellent containing lemon eucalyptus oil. The CDC names lemon eucalyptus oil, along with DEET and Picaridin, among the most effective insect repellents in areas where the West Nile virus has been reported. Pure eucalyptus oil has been shown in studies to be as effective in repelling mosquitoes as commercial products containing up to 15% DEET.

You cannot get West Nile Virus from another person. It is only transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. We urge you to be safe and follow these guidelines to avoid exposure to West Nile Virus.

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