Sugar Land resident diagnosed with West Nile virus; case is first for Fort Bend County in 2021

Only about 1 in 5 people who get infected develop a fever or other symptoms

HOUSTON – The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed a probable case of West Nile virus encephalitis in a Sugar Land resident, authorities announced Friday.

RELATED: Mosquito tests positive for West Nile Virus in Sugar Land, officials confirm

The resident is recovering from the infection. It’s unknown where the exposure occurred. This is the first case identified in a Fort Bend County resident this year, according to Fort Bend County Health and Human Services, which investigated the case.

A Sugar Land representative said the city will continue citywide spraying twice per week and is working closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services to trap and test mosquitos for the presence of the West Nile virus. The traps supplement the city’s larvicide and mosquito spraying operations.

West Nile virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquito season starts in the late spring-summer and continues through fall. Fortunately, most infected people do not feel sick. Only about 1 in 5 people who get infected develop a fever or other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

While there are no vaccines to prevent West Nile virus, there are actions you can take to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses. These are tips, as shared by Fort Bend County Heath and Human Services.

Tips for reducing mosquitoes around your home

Mosquitoes require water for reproduction. The following can help reduce mosquitoes:

  • If possible, dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, and tire swings.
  • You can also drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for plants or recycling.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters.
  • Turn over objects that may trap water when they are not in use, such as wading pools and wheelbarrows.
  • Change water in birdbaths on a weekly basis.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools. When pools are not in use, use pool covers and drain when necessary.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, no holes, and remain closed

Tips for avoiding mosquito bites when outdoors

  • Minimize outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven and loose-fitting.
  • Use mosquito netting if camping or otherwise sleeping outdoors.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone, and apply according to directions when it is necessary to be outdoors. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • When using DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors (for example, 6 percent lasts approximately two hours and 20 percent for four hours) and wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, the hands of children, or to infants less than two months old.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.