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Tarrant County Confirms First Case Of West Nile In Human

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.com

CBS DFW (con't)

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mosquito 74003954 Tarrant County Confirms First Case Of West Nile In Human

A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus is seen at a county health department. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant has become the third area county to confirm a case of West Nile in a human, Public Health Department spokeswoman Vanessa Joseph said Thursday.

Yesterday, Dallas County confirmed a case in Richardson while Denton County said a person tested positive earlier in the month.

While she wouldn’t say where the bite happened, Joseph said there are five mosquito pools throughout the county that have tested positive and investigators are focusing on those areas.

On June 5, a pool in Bedford tested positive. On June 12, West Nile was found in two in Hurst. And on June 15, Euless and Richland Hills both had a pool test positive.

Mosquito pools are controlled pools of water fermented with grass, which attract mosquitos to lay their eggs in and allow researchers to test for the presence of West Nile.

Richland Hills has not sprayed for mosquitos yet, but will in the coming days. Euless sprays every month and will again next week. Hurst tests its pools weekly and sprays at night. The city sprayed the day after a pool tested positive.

Bedford does not spray because of resident complaints –– but the city does set mosquito traps throughout it.

“Alot of people are allergic to it,” said John Kubala, Bedford city spokesman. “In the past, there have been complaints, significant complaints, when you go buy and spray. We thought it would be safer to use the brickets and larvacide.”

This is relatively early in the summer season to be recording cases of West Nile in a human, experts say.

They’re blaming it on the coupling of the mild winter and a wet spring. The temperatures never got cold enough to kill the pests off and the spring rains are giving them more standing water to lay their eggs in.

Joseph said residents should wear long pants and sleeves and cover themselves in insect repellant containing the pesticide DEET.

Mosquitos are most active in the mornings and evenings –– staying indoors at those times reduces the risk of being bitten.

“Be careful at dawn and dusk, wear DEET when they go out, be cautious about standing water in their yards and empty that as quickly as possible,” said Betsy Deck, a spokeswoman for the city of Euless.

Joseph said Tarrant County will continue testing mosquito pools and alerting the community to spread awareness.

Most people infected with West Nile won’t have significant signs pointing to it. Illness typically occurs between three and 15 days after being bitten.

A Tarrant County Public Health Department fact sheet says 20 percent of infected people usually show signs of West Nile fever. The symptoms of that are fever, headache and body aches, rashes and swollen lymph glands. See a doctor if you think you’re infected.

Here’s a map tracking the counties in the state that have confirmed cases of West Nile.

Yesterday, reporter Bud Gillett spoke to a man who was infected with the disease. I’ve copy and pasted that below, and click here for the whole story:

“It can happen to anyone, anywhere, and it’s most likely to happen in your neighborhood or in your back yard,” said surgeon Dr. Don Read.

He came down with it in 2005 and it left him speechless, deaf and partially paralyzed. He spent a year in hospitals and rehabilitation and still wears leg braces. He can no longer perform all of the surgeries he used to, and he still has to pace himself.

“If I do way too much my muscles actually get weaker and it may take me two weeks –– one time it took me two months –– to recover,” Read said.

He says while the very old and very young are most at risk, West Nile can strike anyone at any age. He discussed some members of a West Nile support group he helped found.

“We had two 35-year-olds who ended up on a ventilator for a prolonged period of time,” Read said. “Most of us think we’re 17 and bullet-proof until something happens to us.”

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