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Tarrant County Stops Announcing West Nile Cases, Only Reporting Deaths

TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - Tarrant County has two new West Nile Virus victims -- and the county's health department has a new policy that won't notify media outlets for new cases unless there is a death.

The health department said it will post new cases of West Nile Virus on its internet site. But it won't announce the information to the media since just because someone near you contracted West Nile, it doesn't mean you're at any greater risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile Virus.

"It's important to understand that we've had positive mosquito sample pools in one part of the county, and then we'd have a case here where we didn't have a positive mosquito pool, but we still have West Nile around," said Russ Jones, Tarrant County's chief epidemiologist. "So it's important for everyone to protect themselves."

One of the latest West Nile victims lives south of I-20 near Hulen. The other lives west of I-35 near Seminary.

One is an 80-year old woman who caught a mild strain of the virus. The other was a 30-year old man who suffered a more serious, nueroinvasive strand.

But a source says neither area has had any recent positive mosquito tests.

Even though it's not obligated to, the City of Fort Worth put flyers out telling people how to combat mosquitoes in the area near where the West Nile Victim's live. It also sent a letter to the homeowners association telling them someone in the area contracted West Nile.

But people we spoke with Wednesday hadn't heard of their neighbor's illness.

Even though there might not be West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes in the area, Jason Rosales, who often brings his two toddlers to visit their great-grandmother in the neighborhood off of Seminary, thinks the health department should let people know about people contracting the virus nearby.

"I think people really should be informed about it," Rosales said. "And you know, don't cover it up. There's no reason not to tell the truth about it. It only prolongs or messes things up further you know?"

Click here to see Tarrant County Health Department's report on West Nile Virus cases so far.

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