Monday, July 7, 2014

Two Mosquito-Borne Diseases Confirmed in Central Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed two mosquito-borne diseases in Central Texas. The first case was West Nile virus in Travis County. West Nile virus can cause headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea, and fatigue. It’s more severe form, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, can cause neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Most people infected with the virus (80 percent) will not have any symptoms. The second mosquito-borne disease to strike Texas was the state’s first human case of chikungunya in Williamson County. Chikungunya is a viral disease that began spreading in the Caribbean in 2013 and causes fever and severe joint pain. Both chikungunya and West Nile are passed to humans through mosquito bites.

Texas physicians and DSHS encourage people to take these precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside, and follow label instructions.
  • Drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outside.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure doors and windows are screened to keep mosquitoes outside.

Texas is no stranger to West Nile virus. In the summer of 2012, we experienced the worst outbreak of the disease in our state’s history. The virus severely sickened more than 400 people and killed 19, many of them Dallas County residents. West Nile survivor and Dallas physician Don Read, MD, chair of the TMA Board of Trustees, shared his experience fighting the illness with fellow physician Dan McCoy, MD. You can view their video here.

To learn more about the signs, symptoms, precautions, and treatments for these diseases, check out the DSHS website on West Nile and the latest news release on chikungunya.

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