What good are mosquitoes anyway? All they do is transmit diseases, parasites & viruses. These pesky things have been around for over 30 million years, so it looks to me like we’re not going to get rid of them any time soon.
You’ve probably heard on the news lately all the talk about West Nile in Tarrant and surrounding counties. West Nile Virus is really rampant this year. Some even say the incidence of West Nile virus cases in North Texas has reached epidemic proportions.
Did you know that most people bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile Virus or SLEV never experience symptoms of the virus? I didn’t know that. Also, the virus cannot be spread from person-to-person. It’s only spread by infected mosquito to person.
You should get to the doctor immediately if the following symptoms persist for more than a few days. Symptoms of West Nile Virus, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:
Skin Rash (Occasionally)
Swollen Lymph Glands (Occasionally)
Eye Pain (Occasionally)
The Mayo Clinic also says that less than 1% of people infected with West Nile Virus will experience serious neurological infection. That can include swelling of the brain (encephalitis) or the membrane surrounding the brain (meningoencephalitis). It can also include meningitis or inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Signs and symptoms of a serious neurological infection are:
Disorientation or Confusion
Stupor or Coma
Tremors or Muscle Jerking
Lack of Coordination
Partial Paralysis or Weakness
Altered Mental State
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of West Nile Virus could last for a few days. But signs and symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis could last for weeks and neurological effects could be permanent.
According to the CDC, the symptoms for SLEV are similar to West Nile. It takes 5 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of SLEV. With West Nile, the onset of symptoms is usually 3 to 14 days.
With all that being said, the best thing you can do is hibernate in your house and become a hermit. Just kidding. The best thing you can do to prevent getting these viruses is to try and not get bit by mosquitoes.
If at all possible, wear clothing that covers most of your body. (Not likely in the middle of a Texas summer.)
Wear clothing that blends into the background. According to How Stuff Works, female mosquitoes, which are the only mosquitoes that bite you, their visual sensors aren’t very keen, but they can see you moving if you are wearing clothing that contrasts the background.
Use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET at a concentration of 7.5 percent to 100 percent. Lower concentrations are sufficient for most outdoor protection, and a 15-percent concentration is recommended for children. This is what’s recommended by the website How Stuff Works. Tarrant County Public Health recommends we use an insect repellant that contains up to 20% DEET.
Eliminate sources of standing water in your yard.
Stay inside at dusk and dawn.
Also, if you see a dead bird, you might want to call the Texas Department of Health Regional Zoonosis Control Office. You can find phone numbers here for the regional office in your area. Their website says their testing of birds is mainly restricted to crows, bluejays, and hawks. Never handle a dead bird with your bare hands. Dead birds can carry many more diseases other than just West Nile or SLEV.
Click here for more information from Tarrant County Public Health.
Click here to get the latest information from Tarrant County Public Health regarding numbers of people infected and ZIP codes where they live. This page also lists the the location of mosquito pools and whether or not they tested positive for West Nile.