AUSTIN, Texas – Texas health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of illness caused by West Nile virus in 2019. The disease case, reported by the El Paso Department of Public Health, occurred in July in an adult resident of El Paso County. Additional cases reported by El Paso are likely to add to the total once they are reviewed by the state.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Most people exposed to the virus don’t get sick, but about 20 percent develop symptoms like headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. In a very small proportion, less than one percent, the virus affects the nervous system, leading to a more serious illness that can cause neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and even death.
The Texas Department of State Health Services urges people to declare WAR on mosquitoes to protect themselves and their families from West Nile and other diseases spread by mosquitoes.
- WEAR long sleeves and pants. Create a barrier to mosquito bites by covering up.
- APPLY insect repellent. Use EPA-registered repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus/p-menthane-diol.
- REMOVE standing water. Dumping out water that accumulates in toys, tires, trash cans, buckets, clogged rain gutters and plant pots will deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs and reproduce.
People should also keep mosquitoes out of their homes by using air conditioning and making sure window and door screens are in good repair. DSHS urges people with West Nile symptoms to contact their health care provider and mention any exposure to mosquitoes.
There were 146 cases of West Nile disease, including 11 deaths, in Texas last year. Over the last five years, Texas has had 1,305 cases and 57 deaths. Mosquitoes remain active in much of Texas into November and December.