TEMPLE — No cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Bell County so far this year.
In fact, no mosquitoes that have been trapped in the four test pools in the county have tested positive for the virus, said Lacey Sanders, disease surveillance coordinator for the Bell County Health District.
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus.
There are two forms of the illness: West Nile neuroinvasive disease and West Nile fever.
Symptoms of disease
The symptoms of severe infection from West Nile neuroinvasive disease include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
West Nile fever is the milder form of the illness.
Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.
Six cases reported in Texas
As of July 22, there were six cases of West Nile in Texas in 2014, the latest in Montgomery County.
Five of those cases were the West Nile virus, and one case in Liberty County was the West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
Virus activity peaks about every 10 years and in 2012 the number of West Nile cases in Texas reached a record high.
During that outbreak, 1,868 cases were reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2013, only a handful of cases were reported in Bell County, Sanders said. Then as now, none of the Culex mosquitoes that carry the virus were trapped locally.
The Department of State Health Services reminds Texans to reduce the risk of exposure by eliminating standing water and other mosquito breeding areas; ensuring door, porch and window screens are in good condition; and using a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535 or para-menthane-diol products when outdoors.
“It takes a drastic temperature drop to knock the mosquito population down,” Sanders said.
Keep using precautions until well into November, she said.
“The best way to protect yourself is by using insect repellent every time you go outside,” said Tom Sidwa, state public health veterinarian and manager of the Zoonosis Control Branch. “West Nile virus can make people very sick, with symptoms that can last for weeks or months.”
No West Nile virus cases in Bell County