What is in this article?:
- Escalating risks of West Nile Virus in rural Texas
- Concerns with school openings
- Half of U.S. cases in Texas
- West Nile virus concerns for rural Texas.
- The death toll related to West Nile Virus in Texas this year has reached 17.
- Dallas County has begun aerial spraying to control mosquitoes for the first time in 45 years.
Concerns with school openings
Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension state school integrated pest management specialist in Dallas County, says it is a valid concern, but one that can be managed.
“State law mandates that public school districts in Texas, all 1,030 of them, must have a trained integrated pest management coordinator on staff. They are trained to deal with situations such as the mosquito problems we are seeing in many parts of the state now,” she said.
West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. It is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus, which is also found in the United States. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other mammals. The most severe type of disease for a person infected with West Nile virus is sometimes called “neuroinvasive disease” because it affects a person’s nervous system. Specific types of neuroinvasive disease include: West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis or West Nile meningoencephalitis.
While most people who contract the virus experience only mild flu-like symptoms including lethargy, weakness, muscle stiffness, malaise and loss of appetite, other and more symptoms might include possible neurological signs of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The latter might include stumbling, staggering, abnormal posture, disorientation, muscle twitching, seizures, paralysis, and coma. In humans, those with underlying health conditions, including the elderly and extremely young, are at greater risk. In some cases, the disease can be fatal.
Health officials warn that while the summer season is nearing its end, WMV can continue to pose a health risk through the fall and winter months until a substantial freeze eliminates mosquito populations.