DENTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Denton County Public Health reported the first death due to West Nile virus in Denton County this year on Friday.
The patient lived in Denton and was diagnosed with West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease.
No other details were released.
“Today’s announcement of a community member passing due to West Nile virus is a stark reminder to us all,” stated Juan Rodriguez, DCPH Chief Epidemiologist and Assistant Director. “Mosquitoes can be deadly. We urge community members to utilize the drain, dress, and defend recommendations to protect their families from illness and death.”
North Texas public health departments are sounding the alarm about West Nile this year. Both Dallas and Tarrant Counties report an increase in mosquitos testing positive for the virus as compared to last year.
So far this year, there have been 11 human cases of West Nile disease in Tarrant County. Two of those people died.
Dallas County has confirmed four human cases since August 5th.
“The thing that we’re all trying to balance is how to you manage the COVID with West Nile with the upcoming flu season,” said Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician with Texas Health. “It’s going to be tricky.”
Dr. Hardesty says people infected with West Nile may start to show symptoms anywhere from a few days to a week after being bit by a mosquito. Most patients just feel really tired and worn out, oftentimes making it difficult to diagnosis.
“It can affect the extremes of age, but can also affect the healthy population,” he said.
To reduce the amount of mosquitos in the area, Tarrant and Dallas Counties have scheduled ground spraying.
Other cities in North Texas are deploying mosquito traps and spraying as well. Fort Worth is even giving away free larvicide to residents at all 15 library branches.
Public health officials encourage people to do their part too.
“Whatever you can do to decrease, standing water is the thing,” Dr. Hardesty said. “Find that hidden pool of standing water somewhere on your property and make sure it gets dumped out.”
It’s also a good idea to limit your time outdoors, especially at dawn or dusk when mosquitos are most active. If you are going to be outside, make sure to wear insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and pants.
DCPH advises residents to take the following steps to minimize risk of contracting WNV:
· Drain standing water in your yard and neighborhood to minimize mosquito-breeding sites such as birdbaths, flowerpots, and clogged rain gutters. Consider the use of BTI briquettes, often called mosquito dunks, in standing water that cannot be eliminated.
· Dress in long sleeves and pants when you are outside and spray thin clothing with repellent.
· Defend yourself by using EPA-approved repellents. Check for ingredients like DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
Click here for more information including mosquito maps, latest news, and facts about WNV.