AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Maps from the Texas Department of State Health Services show five counties in the Panhandle that have reported positive cases of West Nile Virus in humans in 2023.

“Kind of late August, early September is when we typically see cases of West Nile,” Amarillo Public Health Director, Casie Stoughton, said. “We’ve had just over 10 cases of West Nile reported this year, and those are probable cases.”

According to the CDC, cases of West Nile Virus occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through the fall.

“We have approximately, according to the CDC, more than 1,100 cases in the United States so far. Usually in the United States, we see about two to 3000 cases a year. So we’re well into the season at this point, everybody should take caution not to be exposed to mosquitoes because mosquitoes are the carrier of West Nile virus disease,” said Dr. Tarek Naguib, an infectious disease specialist and the regional chair of internal medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.”

Dr. Naguib said most people with West Nile Virus do not have any symptoms, as one in five will develop symptoms.

“80% of the people don’t even feel it and the 20% only feel it, and a distinct minority of the 20% actually get the real illness, which is the neurologic symptoms.”

The CDC reports that about one in 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal illness.

“So if there is a severe headache, if there is an intractable fever, if things are getting worse, deteriorating over the course of 24 hours or so, these people need to be in the emergency room to seek medical care,” he continued, noting those symptoms could be another illness, like meningitis.

According to Dr. Naguib, there should be fewer mosquitoes in the next couple of months and fewer cases of West Nile Virus as a result. However, he said it depends on local factors.

“So for instance, if you live next to a lake, puddle, brackish water, all that stuff that encourages mosquitoes to continue as opposed to a dry area,” he said.

Stoughton encourages people to remember the four D’s of mosquito bite prevention.

“Dump or drain standing water, wear long sleeves at dawn and dusk, and then wear mosquito repellent with DEET,” Stoughton said. “Make sure there’s no standing water. Mosquitoes really like to breed in standing, stagnant water.”

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