More West Nile virus cases confirmed in Central Texas


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 15 at 9:45 PM

AUSTIN -- Most people in Austin will tell you the mosquitoes are out.

"Anywhere you go pretty much. They're everywhere, always biting," said Sarah Hawes, a self-proclaimed mosquito magnet.

This year, the mosquitoes are packing a punch -- West Nile virus.

"After gaining entry to the body, which is usually through a mosquito bite, it travels to lymph nodes and causes a symptom of not feeling well, running some fever, generally the kind of feel like flu-like symptoms is what they report," explained Matthew Robinson, M.D., of St. David's South Austin Medical Center

Dr. Robinson said the virus generally clears up on its own, but if it travels to your nervous system, it can become deadly.

In Austin-Travis County there have been 18 confirmed cases; one of those fatal. In Hays County, there have been four reported cases. Williamson County is reporting two cases.

Phillip Huang, M.D. is the Medical Director of Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services. He says the department is keeping close tabs on the cases.

"What we've seen is that it's widespread throughout the county. There's not any particular area where it's concentrated," said Dr. Huang. 

That can make them hard to treat. Huang says outdoor spraying is not the most effective way to kill mosquitoes in Austin. He recommends personal protection.

When it comes to protecting your family, there are a plethora of products on the market, but doctors recommend a spray that contains DEET because it really does repel mosquitoes. Doctors also say you should dress in long sleeves and pants, drain any standing water and avoid being outside during dusk and dawn because that's when mosquitoes are most active.

If there are a lot of mosquitoes near you, call the health department at 512-978-0370.

"People have concerns about an area, we'll even test if there's larva in the place and put in some briquets that kill the larva," said Huang. 

What you don't have to do is be afraid to go outside. In fact, 80 percent of people get West Nile virus and never know because their bodies fight it off on it's own. Plus, it's like Chicken Pox; if you get it once, you won't get it again.

If you have more questions about the West Nile virus, join the conversation on Facebook on The KVUE Insider or follow Ashley Goudeau on Facebook.