San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Fast Facts: West Nile virus prevention

The easiest and best way to avoid infection by the West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.


Hays County physicians have recorded two local known cases of a neurological disease caused by the West Nile virus this summer.

Both victims were were hospitalized and are recovering from West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease the more severe of two illnesses caused by the virus. Symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, convulsions and tremors can escalate to coma, paralysis and death. Both victims were more than 50 years old, putting them in a higher risk category, said Rebecca Herring, a case manager in the Communicable Diseases section of the Hays County Personal Health department.

Health officials are urging residents to take precautions against the mosquito-borne illness, including wearing insect repellant when outdoors.

“There are no medications to  treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection,” said Beverley Nix, who works in disease prevention for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The state health department has logged 187 cases of West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease in 25 counties this year, including one person who died in neighboring Travis County, according to public health statistics. Officials have also recorded 114 cases of the less-severe West Nile Fever, which is indicated in humans by fever, headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness.

VERONICA GORDON is editor of the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.

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