West Nile Virus General Information

West Nile General Information
Provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services

The most important things you can do to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus is to eliminate mosquito-breeding areas in your environment and limit your exposure to feeding mosquitos. Here are some simple things you can do to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites around your home and neighborhood; let’s all be part of the solution.
  • Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns, or in pet dishes for more than 2 days.
  • Get rid of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters, remove standing water from flat roofs, and repair leaks around faucets and air conditioners.
  • Change the water in bird baths and wading pools at least once a week.
  • Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas.
  • Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats or pools, and arrange the tarp to drain water.
  • If ditches do not flow and contain stagnant water for a week or longer, report the problem.

The risk of someone becoming infected with West Nile is very low. Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Even if the mosquito is infected, less than 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill. The chances you will become severely ill from any one mosquito bite is extremely small; let’s keep the chances even smaller by addressing potential breeding areas in our community.

Your best defense is to practice these habits, known as the “Four Ds”:
  1. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  2. Dress in long sleeves and long pants when you are outside.
  3. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  4. Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common breeding sites include old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters.

Zika Virus General Information
Provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services

What is Zika?

The Zika virus is spread through the bite of certain types of mosquitoes. While it can cause fever, rash, joint pain and red or pink eyes, about 80 percent of people with Zika do not become ill or have symptoms.

Should I Worry?

Most of Texas has a long mosquito season and many people travel to places where Zika is active. This means you have a greater chance of coming into contact with the Zika virus and potentially spreading it to your loved ones and other Texans. Although rare, the Zika virus may also be among the causes of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which your immune system attacks part of your nervous system. The Zika virus also can be spread from mother to child, if the mother is infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy. The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly, a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected and can cause developmental delays

What Can I Do to Prevent Zika?

Take these simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the Zika virus.

  1. DEET All Day Every Day: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA approved repellents and follow instructions.
  2. Dress: Wear long, loose and light colored clothing outside.
  3. Drain: Remove all standing water in and around your home.
  4. Dusk & Dawn: Limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

In addition to the 4Ds, travelers can protect themselves by doing the following:

  • Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows or doors.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that is not well-screened.