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First Dallas Resident Dies of West Nile Virus In 2018

Scott Sawlis of Dallas County Health and Human Services demonstrates a mosquito trap.
Scott Sawlis of Dallas County Health and Human Services demonstrates a mosquito trap.
Brian Maschino
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A Northwest Dallas resident is the first person to die from West Nile Virus in Dallas County in 2018, Dallas County Health and Human Services said Tuesday. The patient lived in the 75229 ZIP code area north of Love Field Airport. DCHHS did not disclose any additional details in order to protect the person's privacy.

So far in 2018, DCHHS has reported three West Nile virus infections. West Nile is most frequently spread through mosquito bites. In North America, that means that mosquito season — extending from the late spring through the fall — is West Nile season. Only about 20 percent of those who come in contact with West Nile virus exhibit any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common symptoms of the virus are fever, headaches or physical weakness. In a small number of cases, especially among those with pre-existing medical risk factors, West Nile can be life threatening.

So far this mosquito season, about four dozen mosquito traps — in Addison, Balch Springs, Coppell, Dallas, DeSoto, Garland, Highland Park, Irving, Mesquite, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park — have captured mosquitoes with the virus, according to DCHHS.

Scott Sawlis of Dallas County Health and Human Services demonstrates a mosquito trap.
Scott Sawlis of Dallas County Health and Human Services demonstrates a mosquito trap.
Brian Maschino

“Controlling an epidemic of WNV infection is a community effort that calls upon residents to take preventative measures to reduce exposure,” Ganesh Shivaramaiyer, DCHHS' interim director, said. “Dallas County Health and Human Services not only conducts active surveillance to detect WNV and monitor infection rates locally but also educates the community to take preventative action.” 

DCHHS Medical Director Dr. Christopher Perkins explains that proper mosquito bite prevention involves DEET sprays.
DCHHS Medical Director Dr. Christopher Perkins explains that proper mosquito bite prevention involves DEET sprays.
Brian Maschino

DCHHS recommends that Dallas County residents use an insect repellent containing DEET whenever they go outside, and that they dress in long, loose and light-colored clothing. Residents also should drain any standing water around their homes or businesses and limit activity at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

At this point last year, DCHHS had reported six West Nile infections. By the end of mosquito season in October, 26 Dallas County residents had reported infections, leading to two deaths. In 2012, the last time Dallas County saw a major outbreak of West Nile virus, 398 residents contracted the virus and 21 died.

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