The West Nile virus is considered a seasonal epidemic in North America. It flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. Recent high temperatures and rain have produced ideal conditions for mosquitoes carrying the virus in South Texas.
In 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported on 31 cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Bexar County and 1,868 cases throughout Texas.
In a recent press release, Metro health released prevention tips to avoid WNV, which is considered a serious illness according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Agency (CDC). The tips are as follows:
- Inspect homes for standing water, and empty out containers. Look in places not commonly checked, and remove water in which mosquitoes can breed.
- Minimum skin should be exposed at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Avoid using perfume or colognes when working outdoors.
- Use air conditioning and make sure all screens on doors and windows prevent mosquitoes from entering.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on exposed skin.
- Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time spent outdoors.
- Spray insect repellent outside of your clothing, to avoid mosquitoes biting through thin clothing. Do not spray under clothing.
- Do not use insect repellent on young infants.
- Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas, avoid contact with eyes, mouth, irritated skin and wounds.
- If working outdoors, use soap and water to wash skin and clothing that has been treated with insect repellent.
Recently, the first case of WNV infection in Texas this season was detected in Anderson County, 238 miles from Bexar County
The CDC reminds everyone at risk to avoid handling any dead birds and to contact local health departments immediately if found.