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DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – As it stands, the West Nile Virus has infected nearly 150 people across the metroplex. And of all the North Texas counties Denton was the first to report a human case of the West Nile virus.
Denton County now has more than 25 human cases of the virus on the books and some have been serious enough to hospitalize victims.
County Health Director Doctor Bing Burton explained some possible reasons for the increased numbers.
“It may be that one of the reasons that we have lots more cases showing up is we’re staying in real close contact with our medical providers,” he said. “We’re getting very good reporting. We’re getting reports from all the labs and so we believe that we’re just right on top of the cases that are occurring.”
The threat of West Nile will increase exponentially in Denton County in the next weeks, when both University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University students begin fall classes.
Health officials say the number of 2012 West Nile Virus cases should be considered a major public health concern. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe this could be the worst mosquito season in decades.
“It certainly is possible that we haven’t seen the peak yet. That really remains to be seen,” Burton said. “It’s [West Nile] maybe the disease of the year. It’s not one that we expected to see in such large numbers and so we’re certainly trying to respond to it appropriately.”
Back when the first case of West Nile was reported in the county, Denton County Health Department Chief Epidemiologist Juan Rodriguez made it a point to stress that not every mosquito bite results in illness.
“Not every mosquito carries the virus, and less than 1-percent of the bites from mosquitoes that do have the virus actually cause serious illness.”
While human West Nile infection is rare, health professionals advise that, to protect against mosquito bites and potential infection, North Texans should:
• Stay indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
• Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET
• Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes
• Eliminate standing water that collects on your property
Since the first of the year, Dallas County has had a total of 26 confirmed human West Nile cases. There have been a total of 52 human cases in Tarrant County and five in Collin County.