AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health has confirmed Travis County’s first human case of West Nile so far in 2022.

According to APH, the person who tested positive for the virus is not a traveler, so it’s assumed that they contracted it locally.

Routine testing performed by APH identified the first positive mosquito pool in July in the 78721 zip code. A total of six positive mosquito pools were identified consisting of the following zip codes: 78759, 78754, 78723, 78721, 78704, and 78744. 

Earlier this year, four human West Nile cases were investigated within the county, but those were not confirmed.

Mosquitoes are present in Central Texas year-round, but the population is largest and most active from May through November. During this period, the APH Environmental Vector Control Unit monitors the mosquito population. 

“Warm, wet weather is prolonging the mosquito season and we should take steps to prevent getting mosquito bites when around standing water,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. 

West Nile virus symptoms, risks

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not experience symptoms. About 20% will develop a fever and mild, flu-like symptoms including headache, body aches, a skin rash and swollen lymph gland.

People over 60 years of age are at greater risk of developing serious disease, as are those with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease. Organ transplant recipients are also at risk for more severe forms of disease.    

Ways to protect yourself against West Nile Virus

  • Drain standing water: Mosquitoes breed in standing water and need as little as one teaspoon. Emptying water that accumulates in toys, tires, trash cans, buckets, clogged rain gutters, and plant pots will deny mosquitoes a place to lay their eggs and reproduce.  
  • Dawn to Dusk: Although different species of mosquitoes are active at different times of day, the Culex mosquito that spreads West Nile Virus is most active between dusk and dawn.  
  • Dress: Wear pants and long sleeves when you are outside. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; mosquito repellent clothing is also available.  
  • DEET: Apply insect repellant: Use an EPA-registered repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or 2-undecanone. Apply on both exposed skin and clothing.