Texas warns residents against West Nile virus

The Texas Department of State Health Services recently issued a warning urging residents to take precautions in order to reduce the risk of contracting the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

TDSHS said that the North Texas region has seen an unusually large number of West Nile cases so far this year, particularly in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton counties. There is no cure for West Nile virus infections, so the warning is aimed at reducing exposure to mosquito bites.

Residents were told to use insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors and to avoid being outdoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. They have also been advised to regularly drain standing water to reduce areas where mosquitoes breed.

There have been 111 human West Nile virus cases in Texas since the beginning of the year. One person has been confirmed to have died from the illness. Of the total cases, 71 were West Nile neuroinvasive, the rarer form of the disease. Most of those who contract West Nile virus develop no clinical illness or symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People with the milder form of the illness, West Nile fever, develop flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, nausea and drowsiness. Those with West Nile fever generally recover on their own, although symptoms can last for several weeks.