Fort Worth woman is Tarrant County’s first case of West Nile illness in 2013

Posted Friday, Jun. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A woman in her 40s has contracted West Nile virus, the first case reported in Tarrant County for the 2013 season, health officials said Friday.

Last year, Tarrant County reported its first human case on June 20. For the entire season, Tarrant County reported 280 human cases of West Nile, including 11 deaths.

The city of Fort Worth has been trapping and testing mosquitoes throughout the city for the past eight weeks, city officials said in a news release.

“To date, no positive mosquitoes have been identified,” they said. But, they added, “With this first human West Nile Virus case, the city will target ZIP code 76110 for enhanced surveillance.”

That ZIP code is south of downtown, including the Near South Side, the Medical District, Fairmount and other neighborhoods. It was one of the areas where ground spraying for mosquitoes was done last summer.

The first case of the year is West Nile fever, a milder form of the illness, according to the county health department news release.

“Additional details about the case are not being released to protect the person’s identity,” the news release said.

“Up to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile will have no symptoms,” according to the news release. Mild symptoms can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue.

“People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks,” the news release said.

Severe symptoms of the infection, known as West nile neuroinvasive disease, can also include neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

Controlling mosquitoes is the most important precaution. Health officials recommend people regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants.

“Mosquitoes that spread WNV can breed in as little as a tablespoon of stagnant water,” the county officials said.

People should use an approved insect repellent. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Also wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

For the latest information about West Nile virus in Tarrant County, go online to http://health.tarrantcounty.com and click on the Take Control Stop West Nile Virus button.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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