The Grayson County Health Department recently announced it has added diseases to its tests of local mosquitoes.
A statement GCHD Director Amanda Ortez said the Texas Department of State Health Services Arbovirus-Entomology Laboratory is performing analysis on mosquito pools submitted from the Grayson County Health Department.
“In addition to testing Culex mosquito species for WNV (West Nile virus) and Aedes mosquito species for Zika virus, the DSHS laboratory is also testing for St. Louis Encephalitis, West Equine Encephalitis, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis viruses in Culex mosquitoes and Chikungunya, Dengue, and Yellow Fever viruses in Aedes mosquitoes, when warranted,” she said.
That will allow her department to provide additional information to the community concerning these additional mosquito-borne viruses.
“WNV is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito. Culex mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. The infected mosquitoes can then transmit the virus to humans,” she said. Ortez said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 80 percent of individuals infected with WNV do not develop symptoms. An estimated 20 percent of people who become infected with WNV will develop a fever with other possible symptoms such as headache, joint pain, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
“Less than 1 percent of individuals infected with WNV will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis,” Ortez said.
“Symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis. Although serious neurologic illness can occur in people of any age, it’s individuals over the age of 60 years of age that are at greatest risk for severe disease, along with those that have medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants,” she explained.
There is no vaccine or medications for humans with WNV.
Since Culex mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn, people should either limit their outdoor activities during this time to fight against WNV, and other mosquito-borne diseases, or be sure to follow the four D’s: Drain – drain standing water; Dress – wear long sleeves and pants; DEET – apply an EPA-approved insect repellent with DEET; Daily – all day every day fight the bite.
Other ways to avoid mosquito bites include staying in air-conditioned areas or if leaving windows and doors open for air circulation purposes, ensure those windows and doors have intact screens in place, repairing any openings that may exist in those screens. For more information on WNV visit http://www.cdc.gov/westnile.