A Denton man in his 90s is the first confirmed West Nile-related death in the county this year, according to the Denton County Health Department.
The man, whose name is not being released, had underlying health conditions, said Sarah McKinney, spokeswoman for the health department.
“There’s an investigation process going on,” McKinney said. “All we can confirm is he did have West Nile virus.”
The county’s last West Nile -related death was in November 2009, when Charlie Sweatman succumbed to the disease. Another Denton man, Edwin Crozier Jr., died in December 2003 after being diagnosed with the virus that October.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 59 confirmed cases of West Nile in Denton County. Thirty-seven are West Nile fever cases, which have milder symptoms, including fever, headache, vomiting and body aches; 22 are West Nile neuro-invasive disease cases, which have more severe symptoms, including disorientation, coma, vision loss and paralysis.
The county has had 18 confirmed cases since Aug. 1.
People older than 50 and those who have compromised immunity are at highest risk of contracting the disease, McKinney said.
“Also, they are at highest risk of dying from the disease,” she said.
The key to avoiding West Nile is prevention, McKinney said.
The health department is encouraging people to avoid mosquito bites by staying indoors at dusk and dawn, when infected mosquitoes are more active. While outside, wear long sleeves and pants and use insect repellent containing DEET.
Preventing sources of standing water will help keep mosquitoes from breeding.
“Maintain your property and make sure you take care of any standing water,” McKinney said. “Cut them off at the source.”
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
WEST NILE CASES
Here is a breakdown of West Nile virus cases in Denton County this year:
Flower Mound: 8
Unincorporated Denton County: 7
Highland Village: 2
The Colony: 2
Fort Worth: 1
Trophy Club: 1
Pilot Point: 1
SOURCE: Denton County Health Department