Officials: West Nile Virus case confirmed in Van Zandt County
Texas Department of State Health Services officials confirmed Tuesday a case of West Nile fever in a Van Zandt County resident.
Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the department in Austin, said she could not release the identity of the affected individual, but a sample given to the department for testing had returned an affirmative result.
Van Zandt County Public Health Officer Dr. J.W. Dailey could not be reached at his practice in the county for comment on the case.
According to information on the department's website, a case of the fever, which is a mild symptom of the virus, also was reported in Henderson County as of Tuesday.
George Roberts, CEO of the Northeast Texas Public Health District, said health officials in the region are aware of the virus and monitoring for it.
"We're not seeing it at the same levels in East Texas as in Dallas," he said Tuesday afternoon.
Denton and Dallas counties have reported high outbreaks of the virus and aerial spraying is under consideration as a means to combat what the City of Dallas declared an official state of emergency last week. Nine deaths have been reported in the county and 128 confirmed cases of the disease, according to the department.
According to a news release issued Tuesday by the department, authorities in Dallas County are expected to determine whether to begin aerial spraying this week.
"We will support the decisions made by local officials as we work together to confront this situation," Department of State Health Services commissioner Dr. David Lakey said in the release. "We are on standby to respond to their requests for aerial spraying or other assistance."
Roberts said Tyler relies on preventative measures to control mosquito populations and thereby the virus. In certain cases, the district will fog, or spray pesticides, in areas plagued heavily by mosquitoes. Aerial spraying also is considered for high-risk areas, he said.
"The best thing people can do is control," he said.
He encouraged residents to check their gutters and other possible sources of standing water where mosquito larva grow, and empty them as a precaution. It's part of what he calls the "four Ds" drainage, DEET insect repellant, dawn to dusk and dress.
He said avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active and if you are, cover as much of your body as possible with long sleeves and pants, and on exposed areas, use bug spray that contains DEET.
He said anyone with concerns about mosquito populations and the virus can contact the district at 903-535-0045.