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Tarrant County Woman Diagnosed With West Nile

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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FORT WORTH (CBSFDW.COM) - A Fort Worth woman in her 40s became the first person in North Texas this year to be diagnosed with West Nile.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department though wouldn’t release any other information about the woman to protect her identity, including what part of Fort Worth she lives in.

The county health department’s medical director, Sandra Parker says the woman has West Nile Fever, which has milder symptoms of the virus.

On Friday evening, we found plenty of people out at Trinity Park near downtown shedding the pressures of the work week.

But as joggers, bikers, and walkers released steam, some were surprised and concerned to hear about the year’s first human case of West Nile in North Texas.

Erika Melendez of Fort Worth says, “It’s scary.”

Melendez says she jogs for an hour every day after work. While she’s wearing sunscreen, she says she hadn’t thought about wearing long sleeves and light-weight sweat pants or bug repellant as authorities recommend.

Melendez says, “I usually jog in shorts because it is very hot, but now that I’m aware I will start being concerned about it more.”

Despite North Texas’ first case of West Nile, there haven’t been any mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile in Tarrant County.

Parker says, “It’s not surprising. When you’re trapping for mosquitoes, you’re testing a representative sample hopefully, you can’t get every single mosquito in Tarrant County trapped.”

A variety of cities in Dallas and Denton counties have already started spraying after trapping mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.

Last year, 280 people in Tarrant County had West Nile — 11 people here died of it.

But what’s troubling is just how difficult it can be to detect it.

Parker says, “Any season, 80 percent of the people with West Nile infection will show no symptoms at all.”

While Erika Melendez says she’s going to buy bug repellant, people like Grant Patterson aren’t worried.

Patterson says, “Didn’t get me last time. Not too concerned.”

North Texas  health officials recommend residents adhere to the five D’s when it comes to controlling the presence of mosquitoes.

DRAIN—all areas of standing water including changing water in wading pools, birdbaths, and cleaning out gutters;
DEET—Use bug spray and protect clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET;
DRESS—Dress in light- colored clothing with long sleeves and wear long pants;
DUSK/DAWN—Limit outdoor exposure at dusk and dawn;
DOORS—Keep door and window screens in good repair

Click here for the the latest information about West Nile virus in Tarrant County.