Galveston County man contracts West Nile encephalitis outside of state

Post Date:09/04/2018 9:59 AM

A Galveston County man continues to be treated for West Nile encephalitis in South Dakota after contracting the disease in that state, Galveston County Health District (GCHD) confirmed this morning.

The male patient, ranging in age from 70-79, is a resident of Galveston County, but contracted and was diagnosed with encephalitis, a neuro-invasive form of West Nile, while in South Dakota.

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed the diagnosis and released a statewide report today listing the case for Galveston County. The man was diagnosed Aug. 26.

“The patient is not in Galveston County, but this is where his residence is so it’s listed on the DSHS report as Galveston County,” said Randy Valcin, GCHD director of epidemiology and public health preparedness.

To protect medical privacy, no other information about the patient will be made available.

Even though this case was not contracted locally, Valcin said now is the time for protection.

“It’s that time of year where we’re really starting to see mosquitoes,” Valcin said. “We encourage you to use insect repellant when outdoors and to do your part to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by emptying all standing water around your home or business.”

Be sure to remember the 3-D’s: Defend – wear EPA-approved insect repellent with DEET in it; Dress – dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors; and Drain – drain standing water around homes and businesses so that mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not have symptoms. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms including headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with West Nile virus recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

Even more rare, about one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness like encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). Symptoms can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.

Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but those 60 years or older are at the greatest risk for severe disease, as are people with certain medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplant recipients.

“Anyone who experiences symptoms – regardless of age – should contact their health care provider,” Valcin said.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit www.cdc.gov/westnile.

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