Elderly Houston man dies from West Nile virus

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by khou.com staff, Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 11:13 PM

HOUSTON—A southwest Houston man is the city’s first confirmed West Nile virus death this year, the City of Houston Health Department reported Friday.

The man was between the ages of 75 and 84. No other information on the victim was released.

City officials have reportedly sprayed the southwest Houston neighborhood where the elderly man recently died.

A woman in northeast Houston, between the ages of 55 and 74, was the city’s first confirmed case of West Nile virus this year, according to the health department.

There have been a total of three reported cases of West Nile illnesses in Houston, and three in Harris County.

“We need to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites and from West Nile virus. We need to protect our homes and our neighborhoods from mosquito breeding grounds,” said Kathy Barton with Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

Barton says the type of mosquito that carries West Nile is not very aggressive but breeds in storm sewers and finds ways into people’s homes.

“It only goes out of the storm sewers between dusk and dawn. It likes to come into your home though, and often times that is what we find, or investigators find. That is where people were bitten,” Barton said.

Health officials say the West Nile virus is nothing close to the threat that it was when it first showed up in the Houston area a decade ago.

The Dallas area has had almost 200 cases, and five people there have died

Mosquitoes get West Nile virus after biting infected birds. Symptoms of mild West Nile include fever, headache, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

Most people under 55 can have the disease with no symptoms at all, and most other cases are very mild. The most vulnerable to the disease are people over 55 or with weak immune systems.

Symptoms of more severe West Nile virus infections - encephalitis and meningitis - include headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, coma and paralysis. If you have these symptoms, contact your health care provider right away.

Click here for more information from the city’s health department.

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