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Travis County resident dies after contracting West Nile virus

A mosquito on someone's hand
James Jordan
Public health officials recommend folks wear DEET or other insect repellent when outside.

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A Travis County resident has died from West Nile virus, Austin Public Health reported Friday. It’s the first death from the virus in Travis County this year.

Mosquito activity was relatively quiet over the summer because of the drought. But the recent rains have created breeding grounds for the insects, which lay their eggs where water collects.

APH said 26 pools with mosquitoes carrying the virus have been discovered in 12 ZIP codes this year: 78702, 78703, 78704, 78721, 78722, 78723, 78727, 78741, 78751, 78754, 78757 and 78759.

West Nile symptoms can include rashes, high fevers and body aches. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 in 10 people who contract West Nile will have no symptoms, however. Serious cases can result in inflammation of the brain, a coma or even death. There are no specific medicines to combat West Nile, but rest, drinking fluids and pain medications can alleviate symptoms.

APH is reminding folks they can protect themselves from the mosquito-borne disease by following the four Ds:

  • DRAIN any standing water around your property. It takes only a bottle cap full of water for mosquitoes to breed. Be sure to empty clogged rain gutters, flowerpots, toys and anything else outside that might be holding trapped water.
  • Wear DEET or other insect repellent when outside. The EPA has a list of recommended bug sprays.
  • DRESS appropriately when outside. Light-colored, loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing is best.
  • Be extra mindful of mosquitoes at DUSK AND DAWN. The Aedes species that carry West Nile are most active at those times.

In June, the CDC identified another mosquito-borne illness in South Texas: malaria. It was the first human case since 2003.

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