Austin identifies area's first 'probable human case' of West Nile in two years

Austin identifies area's first 'probable human case' of West Nile in two years
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Health officials in Austin, Texas, on Thursday identified the area's first "probable human case" of West Nile virus since 2018.

The Texas Department of State Health Services had last week announced the state's first human West Nile case, in Travis County.

Austin Public Health (APH) said in a press release that it's the first time in two years the department has found mosquitoes carrying the virus in Travis County.

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"The first probable human case of West Nile virus disease serves as a reminder to take precautions to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, which can then bite and infect people in our community," said Janet Pichette, APH chief epidemiologist.

There are no vaccines or preventative medications for West Nile virus, though most who are infected are likely not to exhibit heavy symptoms. An estimated 20 percent of infected patients report mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache and body aches, and only 1 out of every 150 cases develops severe illness.

People over 50 years of age are at an increased risk of a severe West Nile illness, and health experts say anyone experiencing extreme symptoms such as stiffness of the neck or muscles, disorientation, tremors, vision loss or paralysis should seek medical care.

APH says the West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness, as one bite from an infected species is enough to infect a person.

In late May, Miami-Dade County in Florida reported its second West Nile case for the year, and the region has reported several more infections throughout the summer months, with two additional cases discovered this week.