2 new confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in ETX - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas


2 new confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in ETX


The Texas Department of State Health Services regional officials confirm two new cases of West Nile Virus in East Texas.

Both of those cases are in Gregg County and bring the total East Texas count to 10 confirmed cases of either the West Nile Virus or West Nile Fever.

There is a very specific difference between the two versions of the disease. West Nile Virus is the neuroinvasive and more deadly form of the disease. People with West Nile Fever have more flu-like symptoms and sometimes don't even realize they have been infected until their blood is tested.

Local health officials say now that West Nile is present in East Texas, the only way to protect yourself is to take preventative measures.

"We have many other reports that are pending to be investigated by our office so we know West Nile is in East Texas at this time," says Texas Department of State Health Services Regional Director Paul McGaha, D.O., M.P.H.

State health officials say you can "Fight the Bite" with their four D's:

  • Stay indoors at dusk and dawn. These are the times when mosquitos are most active.
  • Dress in long sleeves, pants and loose, light colored clothing when outdoors.
  • Defend yourself by wearing insect repellant containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Drain standing water in your yard or neighborhood. Even water in birdbaths and flower pots can attract mosquitos.

Local doctors say the mosquitoes spreading the disease are known as common house mosquitoes and nearly impossible to avoid.

"It is not an exotic variety. It's a kind that hangs around the house and the yard, so it's pretty hard to stay away from," says Dr. Richard Wallace, an infectious disease expert at UT Health Science Center at Tyler.

Those people with highest risk of contracting the disease are the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions or weak immune systems.

"Only about four people in 1000 who actually get the virus are actually going to get the severe neurological symptoms with meningitis or encephalitis," says Dr. Mark Anderson at Mother Frances Hospital.

He says those infected with the fever have flu-like symptoms lasting about a week. Doctors say younger people with strong immune systems are the least susceptible.

"You wouldn't know they had West Nile unless you did a blood test and looked for it," says Dr. Wallace.

For now, experts say the only way to protect yourself is to try to prevent it.

"There are a lot of different antiviral drugs being trailed right now, but none of them have been really shown to be successful against West Nile Virus," says Dr. Anderson.

[West Nile Fact Sheet (PDF)]

[Protect yourself from West Nile with the 4 D's (PDF)]

Gregg County joins the following counties as of 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday with confirmed West Nile cases:

Angelina County - 3 Virus - 1 Fever

Gregg County - 2 Virus

Henderson County - 1 Fever

Lamar County - 2 Fever

Van Zandt County - 1 Fever

Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt says they've notified all the precincts in the county to be prepared to do extra spraying.

Judge Stoudt says one case is a 79-year-old man from Longview.

The virus is more dangerous and neuroinvasive; the fever is more flu-like.

These numbers are the total for the 35-county East Texas region.

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