The City of Lubbock has confirmed its first human case and first human death of West Nile virus (WNV). A resident became ill in June and subsequently died. WNV was a contributing factor in the death. This year, the first mosquito pools to test positive for West Nile virus were collected in June.
“This tragic death from West Nile virus is a reminder that mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. This disease poses a risk, especially to those who have weakened immune systems,” said Lubbock Director of Public Health Katherine Wells. “We have months ahead of us of warm weather and we should all take precautions to protect ourselves from the viruses mosquitoes carry by taking the important steps to prevent bites, such as wearing mosquito repellant and getting rid of standing water where mosquitos breed”.
For the 2022 season, Texas reported 42 human cases, including seven deaths. Over the last five years, Texas has reported 485 cases and 65 deaths. These numbers are likely lower than the true case count due to fact that many cases are asymptomatic and symptoms of West Nile virus infection often look like other illnesses.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms of WNV include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. Four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness—including meningitis or encephalitis—or even death can occur. People older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
It is important for individuals to continue to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. These include:
- Wearing an EPA registered insect repellant
- Covering up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Keeping mosquitoes out of living areas by using air conditioning or intact window screens
- Limiting outdoor activities during peak mosquito times
- Dumping standing water around your home
For more information on West Nile Virus visit the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/