AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, health officials are reminding the public to keep an eye out for another disease: West Nile Virus.
“We are starting to see West Nile Virus cases this season,” said Dr. Tarek Naguib, the regional chair of medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Naguib says though rare, West Nile can be fatal, adding that he has seen one death already this season.
“One [out of] every 1,000 patients or something could end up being a serious condition,” said Dr. Naguib.
Mosquitos are carriers of the virus, and when they bite someone they inject the virus where it replicates in the body.
“It has a tendency to go into the neural tissue, which is the brain of the spinal cord, and it causes infections, the viral infection, like viral meningitis. So the idea is that avoiding the mosquito is avoiding the West Nile Virus,” said Dr. Naguib. “Taking mosquitoes lightly is a thing of the past.”
He said the overwhelming majority of patients who get the virus have mild symptoms like fever, headache, and body aches, but others have non-existent symptoms.
“If you check their blood work later on as a coincidence or something, you will find that they’ve been exposed. So that’s how we learn that this is a disease that, in general, is very benign,” said Dr. Naguib.
Dr. Naguib told us the best way to prevent the virus is to prevent mosquitos.
You might think about the “3 D’s” of mosquito prevention:
- As mentioned, empty anything that collects where mosquitoes can breed.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Tighter fitting closes make it easier for mosquitoes to find your skin.
- Use mosquito repellent.