Public health officials on Wednesday reported Tarrant County’s first 2016 death related to West Nile virus.
The death involved a senior adult with underlying medical conditions.
Last year, the Tarrant County Public Health Department reported one associated death for the season.
Russell Jones, the county’s chief epidemiologist, said that until the area sees sustained temperatures under 55 degrees, the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus will be present.
The winter migration of birds should slow the disease, he said, but as long as the weather remains tranquil and people are attracted to the outdoors, the danger of infection will continue.
“The season is nearing an end, but it’s not over,” Jones said. “Doctors should still be testing for the disease.”
West Nile virus can affect anyone, although people 50 and older run a higher risk of developing a severe infection, according to a statement from county public health officials.
About 20 percent of infected people will develop a fever, with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of the disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Less than 1 percent of infected people develop inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues. The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.
County officials caution residents to take protective measures to safeguard against all mosquito-borne illnesses.
Residents should routinely dump standing water on their property, use EPA-approved bug spray and whenever possible dress in long sleeves and pants.