5 cases of West Nile reported in Angelina County

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In 2000, the Texas Health Department began tracking West Nile Virus and this year officials say the state is seeing an increase in infections.

"Statewide they're tracking more than 100 suspected and confirmed cases right now," said Sharon Shaw, the administrator at the Angelina County Health District. "Angelina County has become aware of five suspect cases."

Shaw says the virus can only be transmitted through a mosquito bite and weather conditions are playing a part in the increase.

"More mosquitoes, I think," Shaw said. "Our rain in the last several months has something to do with the mosquito population."

Local resident Kasadie Wood say she's run into her fair share of mosquitoes.

Chambers Park is just one of many places Wood and her son spend their summer and says it's important to stay proactive.   

"We stay outdoors and we play at the lake and we play at the water park and we spend most of our summer in the heat," Wood said. "He breaks out to the mosquitoes so we spray him with off."

When outside, Shaw says it's important to remember the four D's of defense against mosquitoes: dusk/dawn, dress, DEET and drain.

"Time of the day, drain your flower pots, dress appropriately and spray with mosquito spray," Shaw said.

Symptoms of the virus are similar to a bad cold or the flu. But for those with a high risk, symptoms could become severe

"Small babies being out at those times and being mosquito bit is not good and those over 50 who may have a chronic illness and just not as healthy as they should be," Shaw said.

Currently there is no vaccine for the virus but fewer than one percent of those bitten by infected mosquitoes become severely ill.

The five suspected cases in Angelina county are all people 50 and over. Few of them were hospitalized and all are being treated by local physicians.

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