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West Nile virus reported in Nueces Co.; public not believed to be at risk

Posted at 6:24 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 19:33:37-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District reported its first human case of West Nile virus in Nueces County for 2020, but Public Health District's Local Health Authority Dr. Srikanth Ramachandruni believes the general public is not at risk of contracting the virus.

"The best measure is prevention for West Nile virus," he said. "Hopefully you can avoid getting exposed. The mosquitoes are rampant in summer into the fall season, right now we're going into the winter season, so hopefully we'll have a reprieve from West Nile.”

As a result of the confirmed case, Vector Services will implement the Mosquito Management Response Plan, which includes spraying a 1/2-mile radius around the area of detection Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings. Police Directed Patrol Officers and Neighborhood Services personnel will attempt to locate standing water in the affected neighborhood, and Vector Services will continue surveillance of mosquito traps for signs of the Culex species of mosquito responsible for the West Nile virus.

The affected patient is a man in his 50s, residing in the 78417 zip code, where there has not been a positive case of West Nile virus identified in mosquitoes.

According to Ramachandruni, this is the first confirmed case in a human Nueces County since 2017. Both individuals who contracted the virus then recovered fully.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 48 reported cases of West Nile in Texas in 2020, with eight deaths.

Ramachandruni said most cases of West Nile go undetected, with 80 percent of cases showing no symptoms, and most cases have mild symptoms.

"Usually we don't test them because they're asymptomatic," he said. "We try to test them only for West Nile if they develop symptoms of meningitis. Very few -- I would say one in 150 cases -- develop the symptoms of meningitis.”

The symptoms to look for are headaches, altered mental status, and weakness in extremities.

Public-health officials said you can reduce your chance of getting West Nile by avoiding outdoor activities; or while, outdoors, using FDA-approved insect repellent containing DEET. Residents are urged to help reduce mosquito breeding grounds by disposing of items in the yard that contain standing water.