Galveston County Health District urges precautions from mosquito exposure

By: Galveston County Health District
| Published 05/28/2015

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GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas – The recent heavy rains combined with the warmer temperatures of summer create ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. With that in mind, the Galveston County Health District urges everyone to protect themselves from mosquito-borne viruses, including the virus that can cause West Nile illness.

Mosquito population likely to boom following recent heavy rains, summer temperatures

“The warm weather brings the joys of summer for people who enjoy spending time outdoors with family and friends,” said Dr. Mark Guidry, Galveston County Health Authority. “As we enjoy the warm outdoors, we need to take precautions to protect ourselves from the mosquitoes that enjoy it too.”

The state’s first case of West Nile illness this year was reported in Harris County last week. The patient was diagnosed with West Nile neuroinvasive disease, the more serious form of the illness. To reduce the chances of a mosquito bite that can transmit West Nile virus, people should:

  • Use an approved insect repellent every time they go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol.

  • Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people infected with West Nile Virus will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

    Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months. Symptoms of West Nile neuroinvasive disease can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

    There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider. There are no confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus so far this year in Galveston County. There were two cases in 2014, no cases from 2011 through 2013, and two cases in 2010.

    "We simply want to encourage people to be aware of the precautions they can take to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and the viruses they carry,” Dr. Guidry continued.