Incurable Mosquito Borne West Nile Virus Confirmed in Texas

July 31, 2019 Updated: July 31, 2019

A northwest Texan city warns it discovered a debilitating mosquito-borne virus affecting humans on July 29.

The City of Lubbock Health Department has confirmed the West Nile Virus (WNV) has been reported in the area of Lubbock, 345 miles west of Dallas.

The disease is commonly found in birds, and humans can contract the virus from a mosquito that has already stung an infected bird.

“Infected mosquitoes become the link (vector) that spreads the disease from birds to humans through a bite,” the department said in a statement. “WNV cannot be spread person-to-person.”

Symptoms can include headaches, fever, muscle, and joint aches, nausea, and fatigue. More severe cases can also result in a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

There is neither medication to treat the disease nor a vaccine to prevent infection.

“People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill,” the department said. “[Healthy] people with West Nile fever typically recover on their own … up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.”

Routine laboratory testing identified WNV in mosquitoes that became caught in some vector control traps found across the county.

“The laboratory notified the health department that some of the mosquitoes tested positive for WNV,” the department said.

The department will increase insect spraying and target areas surrounding those mosquito traps that tested positive.

“Everyone is encouraged to take steps to reduce mosquito bites,” the department said. “If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.”

To avoid mosquito bites the department recommends

  • using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellant
  • wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • turning on the air conditioning or closing the window screens
  • limiting outdoor activities during peak mosquito times
  • dumping stagnant water.

For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

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