A person over age 80 living in Lubbock who had a chronic medical condition died from West Nile Virus. According to the City of Lubbock, this is the first death tied to West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease this year. The person lived in zip code 79424.
According to a news release from the city, fewer than one percent of people who are infected will develop a serious neurological illness.
Lubbock Public Health Coordinator Beckie Brawley said the elderly and those with other health issues that weaken the immune system are more susceptible, but everyone needs to take precautions.
So far this year, there have been five cases of West Nile in Lubbock County. Floyd and Swisher counties each had two. Briscoe, Cochran, Hale, Lamb, Parmer and Yoakum counties have each had one confirmed case.
Brawley said all of these cases could have been avoided.
"West Nile is preventable. It is 100 percent preventable. So that's something people need to keep in mind."
The last death from West Nile in Lubbock was in 2010.
Here is more from the city:
The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.
People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are also at greater risk for serious illness.
WNV cannot be spread from bird to man, horse to man or person-to-person.
Symptoms can develop within 2 to 14 days. The symptoms can be mild to severe, starting with fever, and any of the following: weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, headache, muscle aches, rash and swollen glands. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe WNV symptoms.
Prevention is key in eliminating the risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Citizens can further reduce exposure with the following activities:
Remember the 4 Ds when enjoying outdoor activities.
Dawn and Dusk, DEET, Drain, Dress
1. Avoid being out when mosquitoes feed – usually at Dawn and Dusk.
2. Wear protective clothing. Long sleeves and pants when outdoors. (DRESS)
3. Use appropriate repellant and according to instructions on the label. Spray clothing with repellent as mosquitoes can bite through thin fabric. Apply repellent to exposed skin. CDC guidelines recommend repellents containing up to 35% DEET for adults, up to 10% DEET for children.
Repellents can irritate the eyes and mouth so avoid applying to children’s hands.
4. Avoid perfume – it attracts mosquitoes.
Protecting the Home:
1. Install or repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from indoors.
2. Get rid of standing water around the house. Mosquitoes need water to breed. Empty plant saucers, pet dishes, and any containers, such as old tires that have collected water. Change the water in kiddie pools and birdbaths daily. (DRAIN)
3. Keep yard mowed. Mosquitoes hide in tall brush and grasses.
4. Residents are asked to report problem areas with mosquitoes by calling the Mosquito Hotline at 775-3110.
Consult your physician for any illness that you suspect may be “West Nile Virus”.