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Denton County confirms human case of West Nile

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

The Denton County Health Department announced Thursday it has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus for 2013 in the county.

Health officials will not say more than the patient is in his 40s, resides in the city of Denton and has West Nile fever, the milder form of the illness.

“We know it’s endemic in Denton County, so we anticipate cases every year,” said chief epidemiologist Juan Rodriguez. “We’re doing so much better than last year, having one at this time is a good thing.”

Rodriguez said West Nile showed up early and often last year. There were a total of 184 human cases, including two deaths reported to health officials in the 2012 season.

As far as where the man acquired the virus, Rodriguez said health officials had no exact place in mind.

The city of Denton has been trapping and testing mosquito pools since the beginning of the season and, as of July 1, still has had no mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus, according to Ken Banks, the city's director of environmental services.

“It's surprising to see a human case when we’ve had no notifications [of the disease] in the pools,” Banks said.

The city will be moving to Risk Level 4 of its mosquito response plan, which includes stepped up testing and notification efforts, Banks said. If another human case is confirmed, the city will move to Risk Level 5 and, at the City Council's direction, consider targeted, overnight ground-level spraying.

In a news release on the case discovery, health officials urged residents to take precautions to reduce their risk of getting the virus by remembering the four D’s: drain standing water around their homes to reduce mosquito breeding grounds, stay indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, apply repellents that contain DEET and dress in pants and long sleeves when outside, but avoid becoming too hot.

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe contributed to this story.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.