First West Nile Virus Case in 2021 Reported in a Fort Bend County Resident
On Thursday, September 2nd, the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed a probable case of West Nile Virus (WNV) Encephalitis in a Fort Bend County Resident. Fort Bend County Health & Human Services has investigated the case. The resident is recovering from the infection. This is the first case of WNV identified in a Fort Bend County resident this year.
West Nile virus (WNV) is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. As a reminder, please remember that mosquito season starts in the late spring/summer and continues through fall. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. In fact, only about 1 in 5 people who get infected with WNV 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 WNV, there are actions we can take to protect ourselves from mosquito-borne illnesses. They are noted below.
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.
As Health Authority for Fort Bend County, I count it a privilege to be called to serve my friends and neighbors during a challenging and treacherous season for our County and its residents. It is my job and sworn duty to protect the public health under the legal guidance of Chapters 121, 122, and 341 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
To this end, Fort Bend County Health & Human Services (HHS) has spent the past 17 months working to support school districts by providing data, attending town halls, answering questions of school board members and parents, educating school nurses. Our staff have also supported schools by coordinating testing and vaccination, participating in forums, sending infection prevention teams to campuses and providing recommendations specific for our County school districts based on the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Governor’s Executive Order GA38 suspended Chapters 121, 122, and 341 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and prohibited school districts from fully implementing guidance that would mitigate disease transmission during a time when our County is experiencing a significant spread of COVID-19. As such, Fort Bend County requested and was granted Temporary Restraining Order to allow for school districts and local municipalities to take the necessary actions to protect the health of students, staff, employees and residents in their specific jurisdictions.
Based on my experience with the deliberate and thoughtful decision making of school leaders to reduce the spread of disease during the previous school year, and the data provided on the growing severity of disease in our County, I am certain that the Independent School Districts Boards of Trustees will not wait until a disease outbreak has occurred affecting their campuses, students and staff before extraordinary measures are required to stop the spread of disease in schools and communities. We trust that these Boards of Trustees will act in the best interest of those they serve and implement the public health standard of care described by the Centers for Disease Control, which state:
Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
Fort Bend County, Texas