GATESVILLE — As county officials researched the report of a second West Nile case in Coryell County recently, the Department of State Health Services declared the incident was misreported to the agency.
“There has still been only one human case of (West Nile virus) in Coryell County,” said Beverlee Nix, with the state agency’s Zoonosis Control Program, in an email to County Judge John Firth.
“The table that reflected two cases was in error. This is per the DSHS Zoonosis Control Branch in Austin. They will make the correction.”
Firth said the county wasn’t trying to retract the incident, but rather investigate the case and determine if it needed to warn residents about the virus.
“All we were trying to do was learn details, so we could issue another warning if we needed to,” said Firth, noting the county also investigated the first reported case.
The county learned the first case was a 66-year-old woman in Copperas Cove, who had contracted the virus in Coryell County because she hadn’t left the county for at least two weeks.
In that instance, the woman also was suffering from the more severe effects called West Nile Virus neuroinvasive disease. Its symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
Health Services spokeswoman Christine Mann said similar reporting mistakes have happened, and are being fixed on a regular basis. Coryell County’s count on the state’s website should change by Monday.
“We have more than 1,700 cases of West Nile confirmed so there could be a double count by mistake,” Mann said.
There could be other reasons like a lack of information reported to the state agency from local labs and medical offices, she said.
“Whether it is one case, two cases or 10 cases, having those numbers be accurate is important to us,” Mann said. “And that being said, we are still seeing cases of West Nile throughout and urging people to take precautions.”
People can prevent exposure to West Nile by wearing insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and draining standing water.