DALLAS COUNTY (CBSNewsTexas.com) — Dallas County officials are concerned after an Irving woman died from West Nile virus. It was the first death from the mosquito-borne virus in North Texas this year.
The woman had been diagnosed with neuroinvasive disease, which, according to the CDC, occurs in less than 1% of those with West Nile.
"What it is, basically, is the virus here invades the central nervous system. It can affect the brain matter, which can cause encephalitis. It can also affect the spinal cord and cause paralysis, too," said Dr. Nikhil Bhayani, an infection prevention and epidemiology physician advisor.
Mosquito activity has been high in Dallas County this summer and health officials say there have been more cases of the virus this year than last.
"That's why we remind the community not to ignore mosquito bites," said Christian Grisales, the spokesperson for Dallas County Health and Human Services. "Last season, we reported only three West Nile human cases, this season we are up to eight total."
There have only been three human cases of West Nile reported in Tarrant County and only one case in both Collin and Denton counties.
People with underlying health conditions are most at risk. "It definitely is concerning and something to be vigilant about, especially in patients who are older in age, who are immunocompromised, have underlying cancer and other conditions [like] diabetes [and] kidney disease."
And while most West Nile cases resolve on their own, some symptoms to look out for include the following
- Body aches
Experts say you can protect yourself and loved ones from getting mosquito bites by draining all standing water around your home.
"Even though it hasn't rained at all in the last two-to-three weeks, if for any reason you have standing water—just drain it, get rid of it," Grisales said. You can also use insect repellants that contain deet, wear long loose clothing and try to limit how much you go outdoors.
"West Nile Virus can affect anyone," Grisales said. "Young, elderly, it doesn't matter. Mosquito bites can be deadly."
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