On Aug. 15 an 84-year-old man from Merkel died from the West Nile virus. Investigators confirmed his death as the first in Taylor County in 2003, and just last week medical officials announced results that showed a Taylor County woman is recovering from the disease.
However, this should not create fear or panic because the threat of the virus is so low.
This year only 80 people have reportedly died from the disease, compared to 284 last year, according to an article in the Abilene Reporter-News.
The Texas Department of Health said most people are unlikely to get the disease, even if an infected mosquito bites them. Of the few bitten, only about 1 percent will develop into a serious, life-threatening case of West Nile.
As of Saturday, two humans, two horses and two mosquitoes were found to have West Nile in Taylor County. Last year, though, officials identified 19 birds, four humans and 63 horses with the illness.
Only a few counties in Texas have human cases in the double digits, including Dallas (31), Harris (22), Lubbock (16) and Montgomery (14) counties. Officials in these areas are working on mosquito control to keep that population down.
Although the threat of contracting the virus is low, the TDH recommends remembering five D’s: dusk/dawn, dress, DEET and drain.
People should avoid the outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes emerge most prevalently.
If going outside, dress in long sleeves and pants to minimize your skin exposure. Use a bug repellent containing DEET, and always drain any standing water because mosquitoes breed in water.
People should not fear the West Nile virus; as with any other illness, they should just know the symptoms and execute precautions.