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County urging residents to reduce risk of West Nile virus

ROCKWALL – Rockwall County is urging residents to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, a mosquito borne illness.

At least two people in the DFW area have now died from the illness, although they were not in good health. Over 100 have contracted it.

According to a news release from the County Emergency Management Office, residents should use insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors and avoid going outside at dusk and dawn.

There has been a higher than usual number of human West Nile cases in Texas this year due to the warm winter and recent rains, particularly in the North Texas region.

To reduce exposure to West Nile virus:

  • Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Regularly drain standing water, including water that collects in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.

Infected mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and mammals. The virus can cause serious illness or death. West Nile symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness.

Individuals with the milder form of illness typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. Up to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms and will recover on their own.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old, young children, and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms that cause them concern, they should contact their healthcare provider.

For additional information, visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factsheet.htm.

By J.J. Smith

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