As previously reported, there is a lot of Covid 19 going around. Chances are, it won’t kill you if you get it. Not so, the other virus circulating. West Nile virus can be a real killer. It’s not spread from person to person but requires a mosquito to transmit it. Even though it is hotter than hell and dry, there are still mosquitoes out there and you need to take precautions if you are spending time outdoors. Here is an update from The Texas Department of State Health Services.
With mosquitoes showing more West Nile activity this summer than in all of 2022, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommends physicians stay on guard for resultant disease and encourage prevention of mosquito-borne illnesses with patients.
Since DSHS confirmed the year’s first case of illness caused by West Nile virus in mid-July, the total number of cases has increased to 14 total, almost triple the volume seen at this time last year.
Public health officials also encourage physicians to stay alert for other arboviruses – such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika – after Texas confirmed its first locally acquired malaria case in nearly 30 years.
“It’s important for people to be aware that there are many diseases transmitted by mosquitoes found in Texas,” DSHS Commissioner Jennifer Shuford, MD, said in a July 11 release from the agency. “Most of these diseases cause mild illness, but in rare instances diseases like dengue or Zika can cause severe illness. We’ve even had a locally acquired case of malaria in Texas this year, which underscores the importance of taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.”
Mosquitoes remain active in much of Texas into November and December.
West Nile virus disease and all other arbovirus infections are notifiable conditions and should be reported to local health authorities within one week of suspected case detection. For more tips on evaluating West Nile virus, including signs, symptoms, and diagnosis, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s resource page.
In Texas, West Nile virus has been detected in more mosquito pools this year than in all of 2022. Among the 42 cases of West Nile disease in Texas last year, seven were fatal.
Public health officials recommend physicians share the following precautions with patients:
- Regularly apply Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent while outdoors;
- Dump out all standing water inside and outside homes and businesses so mosquitoes can’t lay eggs;
- Use air-conditioning or make sure window and door screens are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out; and
- Cover up with long sleeves and long pants to help prevent bites.