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Published On: Sat, May 25th, 2013

Texas reports first human case of West Nile virus in Anderson County man

The Texas Department of State Health Services announced Friday the first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a Anderson County resident.

The male patient is recovering from the neuroinvasive form of the disease. Additional details about the patient are not being released to protect the patient’s identity.

Anderson County, Texas Image/David Benbennick

Anderson County, Texas
Image/David Benbennick

“This is a serious illness that can take a long-lasting toll,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “Last season was unprecedented, with record numbers of cases and deaths reported in Texas. People need to do all they can to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

Last year in the United States, a total of 5,674 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 286 deaths, were reported to CDC.

The number of deaths is the highest since cases of WNV disease were first detected in the United States in 1999.

In 2012, 62 percent of all reported West Nile virus cases—were concentrated in California, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi,  Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.  Texas reported 33 percent (1,868) of all reported West Nile virus cases in 2012.

Dallas County, Texas alone accounted for 405 human cases of WNV. Anderson County, the location of the current case, reported zero cases in all of 2012.

First discovered in Uganda in 1937, West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

Image/CDC

Image/CDC

Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness.

The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection.

Last year’s outbreak was unprecedented and prompted Texas health officials to improve response capabilities. DSHS has plans in place to quickly move to a faster form of mosquito testing and to double testing capacity if another outbreak situation appears imminent. DSHS will use an electronic disease surveillance system that makes it more efficient for local entities to electronically submit and track the status of their West Nile cases.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says to reduce exposure to West Nile virus:

  • Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread WNV breed in stagnant water.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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