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West Nile Virus Cases Causing Concern in Texas

August 29, 2012

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) continually monitors events that could impact the health and wellness of your patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the highest number of cases documented through the end of July since 2004. The high count is attributed in large part to the much greater than average number of infested mosquitoes, brought on by the mild winter, early spring and very hot summer we have experienced this year.

In Texas, over 100 people are confirmed to have fallen ill with West Nile infection, more than double the 10-year average for cases reported before August. Of that total, the majority were in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties of North Texas. Some deaths also have been connected to the illness, according to Texas Department of State Health Services.

We encourage you to communicate with your patients the preventive measures they can take to reduce their risk for contracting West Nile, including:

  • Wear an insect repellent, preferably one with DEET, when outdoors
  • Avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are biting.
  • Install  or repair screens to keep mosquitoes outside
  • Drain standing water to eliminate breeding habitats
  • Keep pools, saunas and hot tubs chlorinated
  • Wear light-colored clothes when outdoors, and dress in long sleeves and long pants if possible.

The CDC also provides a fact sheet with more information about West Nile on its website: cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factsheet.htm.