First human case of West Nile virus diagnosed in Tarrant County woman

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by MATT GOODMAN and TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 12:01 AM

Tarrant County has logged the region's first human case of the West Nile virus.

The county's public health department announced Friday a woman in her 40's living in Fort Worth contracted West Nile Fever, a more mild form of the of the virus. Spokeswoman Vanessa Joseph said the county's first case during last year –– in which it logged 280 human cases and 11 deaths –– occurred on June 20.

"I know it's coming, the heat is rising, mosquitoes come with the heat," said Fort Worth resident Rosie Booker in a city park Friday night. She said last summer's epidemic led her to keep her children inside. She's prepared for a repeat this summer.

At the same park, Teresa Cole and her fiance, Dennis Pope, sat on together on a bench.

"We sprayed ourselves before we came out here," Teresa said.

The health department advised residents to drain standing water, use an insect repellent containing the pesticide DEET, and wear long-sleeve shirts and pants outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes, the most common carrier of the virus, are most active.

Tarrant County drew up an aggressive plan to fight West Nile this year and next, spending more than $500,000 to quadruple the number of mosquito traps it uses, hire two new full-time employees, and add two spray trucks to the fleet.

But mosquitoes are already being seen. Nine-year-old Brennan Hidic was on a play ground with family members, scratching at two bites on his hand.

"I just put some cream on it," he said. "It happened the day before yesterday."

Residents who contract West Nile will often have no symptoms. Mild symptoms include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches coupled with nausea and fatigue. Those usually come with West Nile Fever.

The virus can also cause neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation and, in the most severe, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and death. These symptoms come with the severe West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease, which typically affects the elderly and residents with poor immune systems.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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