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Warm, humid weather bringing West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes to Bell County

Bell County's Public Health department is urging Central Texans to do their part in preventing mosquitoes in their houses to protect themselves from the West Nile Virus.
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Posted at 5:30 PM, Jul 10, 2024

BELL COUNTY, Texas (KXXV) — Bell County's Public Health department is urging Central Texans to do their part in preventing mosquitoes in their houses to protect themselves from the West Nile Virus.

The department was going through their routine monitoring and found traces of the West Nile Virus over the past six weeks.

“It’s the time of year when people are spending more time outdoors and knowing that we have the presence of the West Nile Virus in Bell County," said Amy J. Yeager, Bell County Public Health District, Director.

West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. It's normally spread by infected mosquito bites.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [cdc.gov] says West Nile Virus does not spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching other people or live animals.

Symptoms of Infection [cdc.gov] may include fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph nodes. Those aged 50 and older with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for severe symptoms, which may include stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, vision loss, paralysis, and, in rare cases, death.

"It is important for our residents to take protective measures for ourselves and our families to minimize the potential for illness. Following the 4 D’s is the best way to avoid mosquito bites and minimize sources for the mosquitoes to multiply,” said Amy J. Yeager, Bell County Public Health District, Director.

Here are the best steps residents can take to help protect themselves and their families:

  1. DEET: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellants that contain DEET or other EPA approved repellants and follow the instructions. 
  2. DRESS: Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing outside.
  3. DRAIN: Remove all standing water in and around your home. Check places like gutters, birdbaths, tires, planters, etc.
  4. DUSK & DAWN: Limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active. 

“The Culex mosquito which carries West Nile Virus thrives in warm and humid weather which makes summer in Texas an ideal living space for them,” Yeager said.
Bell County Public Health District can help provide mosquito dunks to public areas and those that would like some help on their private property can request mosquito dunks/granules.

BCPH cannot treat private property — the owner would have to treat their own property.

The BCPH Mosquito Monitoring and Surveillance Program runs April through late November. This is the second year of the program and BCPH is currently monitoring 22 sites throughout Bell County in urban, suburban, and rural locations.

For more information, visit the Department of State Health Services West Nile website at txwestnile.org [dshs.texas.gov]or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at cdc.gov/westnile [cdc.gov] or cdc.gov/vector-borne-diseases/fight-the-bite.