Denton County health officials say the number of cases of West Nile virus, which currently sits at 18, is the worst outbreak in recent years.
“We have had no deaths to report. I can’t speculate on whether we can expect that or not; we keep an eye on the patients and take reports as they bring them to us,” said Sarah McKinney, spokeswoman for the Denton County Health Department.
The only area death related to West Nile virus occurred recently in Dallas County.
Lewisville was notified recently that two residents tested positive for West Nile virus, the first such confirmations in that city this year.
Of the Denton County cases reported, 10 have developed West Nile fever, while seven were classified the more severe West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
West Nile fever occurs in 20 percent of people bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. Symptoms of the more severe condition are high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, disorientation or stupor, tremors or convulsions, muscle weakness and vision loss, and some may experience numbness, paralysis and coma.
The neuroinvasive disease occurs in less than 1 percent of those bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile, according to McKinney.
Officials said early spring rains across the county promoted mosquito reproduction.
“It’s hard to remember now because it’s so hot, but we’re thinking that’s the culprit right there,” she said. “That’s prime mosquito breeding weather. Now they are out there flying around and reproducing.”
McKinney said health department officials have opened up the West Nile hotline — an automated system where callers can get information about the virus. The health department’s website is being updated almost daily with case counts or if new information is discovered.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY THE NUMBERS
There have been 18 cases of West Nile virus reported across Denton County. Following is a breakdown by number and location.
* Three in unincorporated Denton County
* Five in Denton
* Three in Flower Mound
* Three in Carrolton
* Two in Lewisville
* One in Highland Village
* One in The Colony
SOURCE: Denton County Health Department
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Call the Denton County Health Department’s West Nile virus hotline at 940-349-2907 or visit http://dentoncounty.com/heart/wnv