Two new Tarrant County cases of West Nile virus have been reported, and an outbreak of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has slowed but persists, health officials said Friday.
The latest West Nile virus cases were both contracted around Sept. 1 in Fort Worth, said Russell Jones, chief epidemiologist for Tarrant County Public Health.
One is a woman in her 80s who has the milder version of the mosquito-borne illness known as West Nile fever. The other is a man in his 30s who contracted the more serious West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
There have been two other Tarrant County cases this year, one a Fort Worth woman in her 40s with West Nile fever and the other a Keller man in his 60s with neuroinvasive disease.
The heavy rainfall Thursday and Friday was a mixed blessing on the mosquito front, Jones said.
“With a big downpour, the mosquitoes will go down initially because they get washed out. But after next week, when that water has been standing, we’ll get more eggs laid. The numbers will come back up after that,” he said.
“People shouldn’t let their guard down until we get a good freeze. They need to check for stagnant water after this rain.”
Arlington announced Friday that a positive mosquito sample for West Nile virus was found in a trap near Caliente Drive and Commander Court, just north of Green Oaks Boulevard in south Arlington. The city will conduct targeted ground spraying in a half-mile radius around the area from 9 p.m. Monday until 4 a.m. Tuesday.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 46 West Nile virus cases statewide as of Tuesday, but that doesn’t include the two new Fort Worth cases.
In 2012, Texas led the nation in West Nile cases with 1,868, including 89 deaths. The epidemic was most virulent in Dallas County, which recorded 396 cases and 19 deaths, and Tarrant County, which had 259 cases and 11 deaths, according to the state health department.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 5,674 cases and 286 deaths in 2012.
This year, the CDC has recorded 890 West Nile cases
in 45 states. The most have been reported in California (150), Colorado (120) and South Dakota (99).
Meanwhile, an outbreak of whooping cough that prompted Texas health authorities to issue an alert Sept. 3
has slowed somewhat but persists.
Statewide, 2,160 cases have been reported, according to the most recent figures from the health department. There have been two pertussis-related deaths, both of them infants too young to be vaccinated.
“The pertussis is still ongoing. We have estimated that it’s likely to surpass the 3,358 cases we had in 2009,” said Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the health department.
Pertussis is a bacterial infection that often starts with coldlike symptoms and a mild cough. After a week or two, severe coughing can begin and last for weeks. Coughing fits may be followed by a “whooping” sound.
Pertussis spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. People with pertussis are most contagious while they have coldlike symptoms and during the first two weeks after coughing starts.
As of this week, Tarrant County has recorded 465 pertussis cases, which leads the state. Jones, of Tarrant County Public Health, expects that number to rise by 20 to 25 next week.
“With school starting up, there’s a good possibility we will have a good increase in September before it slows down a bit. Parents should remain vigilant for babies in particular,” Jones said, noting that 39 children in Tarrant County have been hospitalized for the disease this year.
“The important message is that if you are coughing, don’t go around infants. And parents should keep their babies away from people who are coughing,” he said.
Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp
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