West Nile Virus found in Harris County

West Nile Virus (WNV) has been identified in two dead blue jays found in northwest Harris County. WNV is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain infection, This is the first recorded incident of WNV in Texas. Harris County Public Health Services Mosquito Control Division has and will continue to perform its active surveillance, trapping, ground spraying and community education programs in Harris County.
Mosquitoes acquire West Nile Virus from birds and pass it on to other birds, animals and people. It is not spread by person-to-person contact and there is no evidence that people can get the virus by handling infected animals. People can only become infected with WNV after being bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no evidence that people can get WNV from infected animals or people, or that people can transmit the VNV to other animals, birds or people.

People over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing a severe illness because as we age, our bodies have a harder time fighting off disease. People with compromised immune systems are also at increased risk, however, anyone can get the virus,
Most people who are infected show no or only mild symptoms such as low grade fever and headache. More severe signs and symptoms can include: high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness, disorientation, brain inflammation (encephalitis), coma and rarely, death. There is no specific treatment for WNV; however, in more severe cases, intensive supportive therapy is indicated. When symptoms of infection do occur, they usually appear 5-15 days from the time you were bitten. If you think you have been infected with the West Nile Virus, contact your family physician.

To help eliminate mosquito breeding sites and prevent mosquito-borne diseases:

1.Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts when outdoors particularly at dawn and dusk

2.Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition.

3.Use mosquito repellent when outdoors. Be sure to use according to the label – less than 10% DEET for children.

4.Eliminate standing water, old tires, cans and blocked gutters from your property.

5.Maintain your swimming pools. Empty, invert or cover swimming pools when not in use.

6.Keep birdbaths clean. Change the water at least once a week.

7.Report mosquito concerns to your local mosquito control agency.

8.To control mosquitoes inside a house, use a “flying insect spray”. Be sure to use according to directions on the label.