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Austin Public Health talks West Nile Virus symptoms after virus found in mosquito pool

No cases of the virus in humans have been reported.

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Austin Public Health announced they found a mosquito pool positive for West Nile Virus in the Travis County 78721 ZIP code. 

That encompasses the area east of Airport Boulevard to Ed Bluestein Boulevard and from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard down to the Montopolis Bridge. At this time, there are no reports of cases in humans, but APH said that "the positive mosquito pool indicates the virus is in our community."

Last year, Travis County had eight positive mosquito pools. The entire state of Texas had a total of 1,515 virus-positive pools and 77 confirmed virus cases.  

“The monitoring of mosquito pools is key to keeping the public informed and safe, especially when many people are spending time outside,” Marcel Elizondo, interim assistant director for Environmental Health Services, said in a statement. “By removing standing water and using prevention tools we keep ourselves, our families and communities safe.”

Travis County residents are encouraged to follow the "Four Ds" to protect themselves from the West Nile Virus: drain standing water, dress in pants and long sleeves, use DEET and remember "dawn to dusk," which is when virus-spreading Culex mosquitos are most active.

According to APH, West Nile Virus is the nation's most common disease to come from mosquitos, and roughly 20% of infected people develop headaches, vomiting and other symptoms. Even fewer people go on to develop serious nervous system illnesses, though elderly people and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions are at a higher risk for such illnesses.

Todd Merz, the interim public health program manager for APH said some of the symptoms include "high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors. There's a central nervous-type related symptoms that that can affect people who are generally older." 

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services said the state sees the West Nile virus every year, but only a few cases are severe. 

"Less than 1% come down with what we call West Nile neuro invasive disease. And that's where the virus really invades the nervous system and can cause those more severe neurological symptoms and can, in fact, be life threatening," Van Deusen said.

Health experts recommend wearing insect repellent to avoid getting bit my mosquitoes, especially at dusk and dawn.

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