AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health (APH) said three Travis County residents have contracted the West Nile Virus since the discovery of positive mosquito pools in August — now five total and all in the 78744 ZIP code.
APH said two of the three infected people were exposed to the virus while traveling outside of Austin-Travis County.
West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the U.S., and is typically spread to people after being bitten by an infected mosquito, APH said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the West Nile Virus is not spread through coughing, sneezing or touching other people or live animals.
APH said only about 20% of people infected with West Nile Virus develop symptoms like headaches, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Few develop other serious illnesses affecting the central nervous system, according to APH.
People over 60 and those with medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and those who have had organ transplants are at greater risk, APH said.
APH wants the community to “fight the bite” using the “Four D’s”:
- Drain standing water: In as little as a teaspoon, mosquitos breed in standing water. Draining water that accumulates in toys, tires, trash cans, buckets, clogged gutters and plant bots will help prevent mosquito breeding.
- Dusk to dawn: Other mosquitos my be active during different parts of the day, but the Culex mosquito that spreads the West Nile Virus is most active between dusk and dawn.
- Dress: Wearing pants and long sleeve that are loos and light colored when you go outside will help you avoid being bitten.
- DEET: Use an EPA-registered insect repellant like those that use DEET and other repellencts on exposed skin and clothing will help ward mosquitos away.
While mosquitos are active at all parts of the year, their populations are largest and most active between May and November, APH said.
You can find more information on the City of Austin’s West Nile Virus website.