September 11, 2012
West Nile Virus in Galveston County
Galveston County and Cities – Health Officials urge prevention and understanding regarding West Nile virus. Since first detected in the United States in 1999, there has been a risk of acquiring the illness, particularly during peak mosquito season. There are also those at higher risk of getting the illness which include people older than 50, and people with weakened immune systems.
“The key point is to avoid mosquitoes,” said Dr. Mark Guidry, Galveston County Health Authority and Galveston County Health District CEO. “There is no reason to panic."
Guidry said, “Since the beginning of West Nile infections, our message has remained the same. We now know that every year the possibility of West Nile virus exists so be aware and take precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.”
Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid becoming infected with West Nile virus. To protect themselves, residents need to wear protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) when outdoors, avoid going outside at dawn and dusk, and take efforts to make their homes unattractive to mosquitoes by emptying containers that may collect rainwater and sprinkler water.
Adults should also use an approved insect repellant every time they go outside and always follow label instructions, particularly if using on children. Approved repellants are those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals. Most people who become infected will never even know they have the illness; however, a rare but serious illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, can develop in some cases.
To date there has been only one probable case of West Nile virus reported in the county; however, it is believed that many more cases go undiagnosed and unreported. There is no evidence that West Nile virus can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.
For more information the public is encouraged to visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) web site at: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/ or call Galveston County Health District Epidemiology Services at (409) 938- 2322.
(News Media: For more information contact Kurt Koopmann, GCHD Public Information Officer, (409) 938-2211)