The West Nile virus has already found its first victim this year in Harris County in a man whose identity has not been released and is currently hospitalized.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported the first case in the state and is urging people to protect themselves from mosquitoes carrying the virus.
The patient from Harris County contracted the West Nile neuroinvasise disease, the most serious and life-threatening form of the virus. However, doctors are hopeful that he will fully recover.
The first case of infection this year was confirmed by the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services on Thursday. The city of Mesquite is reported to have been the place where authorities trapped mosquitoes which tested positive for the West Nile virus, after probably having fed on the blood of birds carrying it as well.
There are milder versions of the West Nile virus infection. Those who contract the mild version could accuse symptoms such as headache, fever or muscle aches, as well as fatigue and nausea. The symptoms may carry on for weeks or months if the case be, yet patients could cure on their own, although medical supervision is recommendable.
The most difficult form of infection with the West Nile virus is the West Nile neuroinvasive disease which causes in addition to the symptoms above, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsion, muscle weakness. In the most serious cases it can lead to coma and paralysis and even death.
Dr. Tom Sidwa, manager of the Department of State Health Services’ zoonosis control branch stated:
“Up to 80 percent of people who contract the virus don’t get symptoms and won’t even know they have it. But those who do get sick can experience very serious effects ranging from fever to substantial neurological symptoms and even death.”
Unfortunately, as of yet there are no treatments that can prevent outspread of the West Nile infections. Therefore, self-care is highly recommended.
Remember to use an approved repellent when venturing outside. Approved repellents typically contain DEET, IR3535, picaridin or oil of lemon or eucalyptus. In addition, long sleeves and pants are recommended, especially at dawn and dusk when the virus carriers are highly active.
Draining any standing water is of crucial importance as the mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus typically reproduce in this environment. For improved home security against mosquitoes, use screens on both windows and doors in addition to air conditioning.
Last year, 379 human cases of West Nile virus infections were reported in Texas. Of these six resulted in deaths.
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