BioNews Texas has consistently covered the rise in west nile virus cases in Texas this season — particularly in and around Dallas. Back in mid-July, we published a piece on how this summer season was shaping up to become one of the worst for west nile virus in Texas in decades, and UNT Health Science Center researcher Dr. Joon Lee in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences took time in an interview to explain the risks and measures that both the university and city are taking to curtail more infections.
Now, it appears that a fourth Dallas-area resident has contracted a serious case of west nile virus.
According to the Dallas Morning News, “Dallas County Health and Human Services announced Monday the fourth West Nile human infection of the season. The victim was a man over 60 who lives in ZIP code 75224 in central Oak Cliff, an area that straddles I-35. He suffered severe neuroinvasive symptoms, said Zachary Thompson, director of the health department. County officials continued to urge residents to use insect repellent when outdoors and to wear long pants and sleeves when going outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.”
It’s worth noting that the same approach and best practices that Dr. Lee espoused in his interview with BioNews Texas now appear to be part of the city’s direct response to news such as this, with the Dallas Morning News giving residents a sense of where this latest case was contracted, and how to avoid being bitten. Dr. Lee suggested that prevention at the local level is key, since west nile virus outbreaks can be extremely focused in particular locales and neighborhoods. This latest case, which happened in Oak Cliff, has been specifically targeted as a locale where residents need to be especially vigilant.
Dr. Christopher Perkins, the county’s medical director, offered additional suggestions for avoiding mosquito bites, commenting: “The first line of defense to prevent West Nile virus infection is to avoid getting bitten in the first place,” and adding that, “[s]uch measures also include removing outdoor standing water, where mosquitoes can breed. Windows and doors also should be mosquito-proofed to keep the insects out of the house.”
It’s worth noting that, back in April, 89 mosquito pools in Dallas county tested positive for West Nile — a discovery that led researchers like Dr. Lee to recognize early on that the 2013 summer could bring with it outbreak-like levels of west nile to Dallas. Fortunately, the DFW metroplex did not experience as severe an outbreak this year. As the summer season begins to wind down, the city and surrounding communities will undoubtedly continue to work proactively to keep west nile virus from spreading any further.
Photo from dallasnews.com