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Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Virus Detected In Southeast Austin

Bug spray on a shelf
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Health officials recommend wearing bug spray and eliminating standing water around your property to prevent mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been detected in Southeast Austin.

Austin Public Health said Thursday four pools of mosquitoes in the 78744 ZIP code have tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks.

There haven’t been any known infections in humans yet, but APH warns “the positive mosquito pool indicates the virus is in our community.”

Last year, 36 mosquito pools tested positive for the virus in Travis County, and four cases of the illness were confirmed.

A mosquito trap has also tested positive for West Nile Virus in Williamson County, officials said Wednesday. Located in Granger, the trap is the sixth one in the county to test positive this year — four were detected in Granger and one was in Taylor.

West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in America. It typically spreads when an infected mosquito bites a human. It doesn’t spread through coughing or sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes. Most people infected with the virus don’t feel sick, though. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop symptoms, and about 1 in 150 infected people develop serious illness.

People over 60 and those with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease are at a higher risk of developing severe disease from the virus.

Health officials say you can protect yourself by eliminating places where mosquitoes can breed. Mosquitoes breed in standing water (even in as little as a single teaspoon), so you should empty water that’s collected in pots, tires, toys or other items around your home.

The mosquito that spreads West Nile Virus is most active between dusk and dawn. Health officials say wearing pants and long sleeves outside or light-colored, loose-fitting clothing can help prevent bug bites. Using insect repellant on exposed skin and clothing is also recommended.

Marisa Charpentier is KUT's assistant digital editor. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.
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