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First human case of West Nile virus confirmed in Austin this year

A mosquito on someone's hand
James Jordan
/
Flickr

As if COVID-19, the flu and respiratory illnesses weren't enough, public health officials in Austin are advising people to be careful of the West Nile virus.

Austin Public Health announced the first human case of the year Tuesday. Austinites can blame the weather for this unusually long West Nile season.

Mosquito pools start getting tested around May 1, Aaron Urbanek, a senior environmental health officer with the City of Austin, said.

"That's when we start seeing some of the increase in numbers due to the warmer temperatures and wetter weather," he said.

The season usually ends in mid-to-late November. This month has been relatively wet, though, and that provides ideal places for mosquitoes to lay eggs.

"Drain any objects that could possibly hold water because it takes as little as a tablespoon for mosquitoes to reproduce," Urbanek advised.

To keep yourself from getting stung by a mosquito and potentially contracting the virus, he said, wear long clothes, apply mosquito repellent and stay indoors around dawn and dusk.

Symptoms for the virus are similar to the flu, but there are a few distinguishing factors.

"Some of the symptoms that you're gonna look for would be headaches, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph nodes," he said. In particular, he said, consult a physician if you develop a skin rash.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at hpanjwani@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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