Fort Worth, Texas,
14
July
2016
|
05:25 PM
America/Chicago

West Nile and Zika in Tarrant County

Protecting yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses

West Nile and Zika.

As we expected, both mosquito-borne illnesses have been reported in Tarrant County.

West Nile

On July 13, Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) confirmed the first case of West Nile virus for the 2016 season. The case is from Bedford and is the severe form – West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease. More information is not being released to protect the patient’s identity.

Symptoms of the more severe form of West Nile include neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. This form of the disease can be deadly.

The mild form of the disease is commonly referred to as West Nile Fever. Symptoms include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks.

“West Nile Virus infection is found in local mosquitoes. It is acquired from mosquito bites and not from infected people," said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children's. "Most children who are infected with this virus do not develop symptoms. It has been circulating in mosquitoes in the United States for many years and is not new."

TCPH reminds us that we can protect ourselves from the West Nile virus through prevention and protection.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites:

  • Dump mosquito breeding sites:
  • Dump standing water
  • Overturn containers
  • Dispose of trash

Use dunks, bits and briquettes

Protect yourself:

  • Use EPA-approved insect repellent
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants

Zika

Tarrant County Public Health has identified two new imported cases of Zika, raising the total number to 11. There is still no local transmission in Texas.

The chance of a healthy child living in this area becoming ill with either of these viruses, West Nile or Zika, currently is "very, very, low," according to Dr. Whitworth. She said if Zika begins to circulate in local mosquitoes this may change, but it hasn’t yet. She adds that the best thing parents can do is help their children avoid mosquito bites. And if your child becomes ill and you have concerns, seek medical care. 

"Zika Virus is not currently circulating in local mosquitoes and so in this area it only occurs in returning travelers who are infected, their sexual partners, and, sadly sometimes their infants," Dr. Whitworth said. "Until this is circulating in local mosquitoes, the risk of infection here is very close to zero with this virus."

The chance of a healthy child living in this area becoming ill with either of these viruses currently is very, very, low. If Zika begins to circulate in local mosquitoes this may change, but it hasn’t yet. The best thing parents can do is help their children avoid mosquito bites. And if your child becomes ill and you have concerns, seek medical care. “

The first patient had traveled to Jamaica and the second patient to St. Lucia.

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) confirmed the first Zika related microcephaly case in the state of Texas. The mother had traveled from Latin America. The mother received inconclusive test results for Zika. The baby received a definitive positive lab result for Zika, which means the mom most likely carried the virus while pregnant and is thought to have been infected in Latin America.

Microcephaly, is a medical term for an abnormally small head. The causes of microcephaly can vary, but in this instance the small skull was directly related to abnormal fetal brain development.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “that all people, especially pregnant women, who are traveling to Brazil and other areas in Latin America, should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to reduce their risk of infection with Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and chikungunya.”

The CDC asks that travelers protect themselves from mosquitoes by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

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