AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health identified the first ‘probable human case’ of West Nile Virus in Travis County for 2020.
Health officials said this is the first time in two years they’ve found mosquitoes carrying the virus the county. APH announced Wednesday the virus was found in an adult who lives in the northern part of the county.
“In general, the good news is that most people who are infected with West Nile Virus will not have any type of illness, so that’s really good,” Dr. Jacqueline Champlain at Austin Regional Clinic said.
Mosquitoes found carrying the virus were found in both Williamson and Travis Counties earlier this month.
APH said officials found pools of virus-carrying mosquitoes in Travis County in the 78756 and 78751 zip codes which are the Rosedale and Brentwood neighborhoods stretching from 38th Street to Koeing Lane in Central Austin.
For Williamson County, mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile near Southwest Williamson County Regional Park.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness in the country, APH said. Humans can get the disease from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Most people who get West Nile will not have any symptoms, but an estimated 20% of people will develop a fever with mild, flu-like symptoms. This can include a headache and body aches, and occasionally a skin rash or swollen lymph glands, APH said.
Those over 50 are at a higher risk for developing symptoms.
“Obviously if you started to have symptoms of the stiffness of the neck, of the muscles, disorientation, tremors, vision loss, or paralysis you’d want to seek medical care immediately,” Champlain explained.
Mosquito populations in Texas are most active from May to November, according to APH. This is when samples of mosquitoes are tested for these types of diseases. Additionally, mosquito species most likely to spread West Nile are most active between dusk and dawn.
How to avoid getting bitten
Dr. Champlain said it’s important to remember the four D’s — Dusk through Dawn, Dress, DEET and Drain.
“A species of mosquitoes that spread the West Nile Virus are most active between dust to dawn,” she said.
APH recommends wearing pants and long sleeves when outdoors. You can also wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and use mosquito repellent.
APH also recommends using repellent with DEET and reading label instructions before use.
“The most effective way to prevent infection of course is to prevent the mosquito bite,” Champlain said.
Finally, APH says to drain any standing water in your yard or neighborhood. Items like old tires, flower pots and clogged rain gutters can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.
Dr Champlain said, at present there are no vaccines to prevent or any medication to treat West Nile Virus.