WEST NILE VIRUS – WILLIAMSON COUNTY
In July 2020, mosquitoes tested positive near Southwest Williamson County Reginal Park. A sample was collected which showed the mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus. The testing is part of the Williamson County and Cities Health District’s (WWCCHD) mosquito management program. The sample was indicated in a lab result from the Texas Department of State Health Services lab in Austin. The species that was positive for West Nile is Culex guinguefasciatus (southern horse mosquito). This species has a flight range for one mile. WWCCHD will continue enhanced monitoring, testing, and increase public outreach and education. WWCCHD encourages everyone to be vigilant about protecting themselves from mosquito bites when outdoors.
There have been no reported human cases of West Nile virus in Williamson County since 2017. West Nile should not be confused with other mosquito-borne viruses.
There has been no evidence of mosquitoes transmitting COVID-19.
What are the signs and symptoms of West Vile virus?
Majority of people who are infected with West Nile virus (about 75-80%), will not develop illness. Twenty-twenty five percent of people infected develop a mild form of the disease (West Nile fever), which includes fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, and occasionally a skin rash on the chest or back. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop a more sever form of the virus (West Nile neuroinvasive disease) which could affect the brain and spinal cord. Signs and symptoms of the severe disease include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
The incubation period of the virus in humans can last from 3 to 14 days. Signs and symptoms of mild disease may last three to six days. Signs and symptoms of severe disease may last several weeks or months. Neurological effects may be permanent and rarely death can occur.
How is West Nile virus diagnosed?
If you develop symptoms of the virus after being bit by a mosquito, such as headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Most common used test measures antibodies that are produced early in an infected person called IgM antibodies, that is measured in blood or cerebrospinal fluid. The test may not be positive when symptoms first start, but is positive in most infected people within eight days from the beginning.
How is West Nile virus treated?
There is no specific treatment for the virus. Protecting yourself and keeping up with mosquito treatments can significantly decrease your chances of contracting the virus, though not 100% guaranteed.
Can West Nile virus be transmitted from person to person?
West Nile is rarely transmitted from one human to another but is spread through the following:
– Infected mosquitoes
– Transfusions and transplants
– Mother-to-child (during pregnancy and through breast-feeding)
***Human to human transmission does not occur through breathing or by touching and kissing.
Is there a vaccine for West Nile virus?
There is currently no human vaccine for West Nile virus.
Is this a seasonal virus?
Though West Nile is common in warmer months when mosquitos are most active, there could be year-round infection in warmer parts of the state.
How can I reduce my risk of getting West Nile virus?
– Upkeep regular mosquito treatments
– Apply insect repellent when outside
– Reduce time spent outside during peak mosquito time (dawn and dusk)
– Cover up with clothes to help reduce bites, particularly ankles, wrists, and back of the neck
– Drain standing water where mosquitoes like to breed (puddles, ditches, and containers)
– Check doors and windows to make sure they have tight-fitting screens with no tears and holes