Waller County reports first West Nile-related death

West Nile virus cases continue to rise in the Houston area.

September 14, 2012 2:47:20 PM PDT
Waller County is reporting its first West Nile virus-related death.

Waller County health official Brian Cantrell says the state's health department informed them of the death late Thursday. Right now, all we know is that the person lived in the Hempstead area.

On Thursday, the city of Houston reported its fourth death from the mosquito-borne disease. That victim is a 75- to 84-year-old man from northwest Houston.

On Friday, the Houston Health Department also reported two new human cases, raising the total in Houston to 51.

Harris County also is reporting five new cases, bringing its total to 21. No deaths have been reported in Harris County.

Fort Bend County has reported eight total cases, and Brazoria County is now reporting two probable cases -- one in the northern part of the county, and the other in the central part of it.

As for other counties in our area as of last Friday, Montgomery County has reported four cases with no deaths. Wharton County has had one case with one death. Liberty County and Galveston County have both had one case with zero deaths.

Overall, more than 75 human cases have been confirmed across the ABC13 viewing area with five deaths, the four in Houston and one in El Campo.

Federal health officials say this is the nation's worst year for the mosquito-borne virus since it was discovered in New York 13 years ago.

There are more than 1,400 cases of West Nile in the United States. Texas has at least 52 of the country's 118 West Nile related deaths.

Several Texas counties have been spraying pesticide to help reduce the mosquito population.

Mosquito-proof your property

HCPHES continues to encourage residents to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats around their property.

  • Remove or empty all outside containers that may hold water such as flowerpots, tires and toys.
  • Bird baths and pet water bowls should be changed at least twice a week.
  • Clean out gutters and make sure windows and doors have proper screening.
  • Do not "feed" the storm drains. Sweep up lawn clippings, leaves and tree limbs from sidewalks and driveways and dispose of them properly.

Prevent mosquito breeding in boats

  • Cover your boat and store it in a covered place.
  • Drain any standing water and make sure the bilge pump is working.
  • Turn over canoes, kayaks and small boats to store upside down.

Personal protection

Historically, in Harris County, July through September is the peak timeframe for disease transmission to humans. To reduce the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes, practice personal protective measures.

  • When outdoors, use an insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 and apply as directed on the label.
  • If possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

For additional information and/or maps of West Nile Virus activity in Harris County, visit www.hcphes.org.

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