Tarrant County Reports First 2020 Death From West Nile Virus

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By NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

Tarrant County Public Health is reporting the first West Nile Virus death of 2020 season. It's the first fatal human case of West Nile in Tarrant County since September of 2018.

Officials say the patient was an elderly man who lived in Fort Worth. They say he did have other medical conditions.

The West Nile Virus is spread when mosquitoes carrying the virus bite people. Health officials set traps for mosquitoes and then test them for the virus to determine its prevalence in the community.

"The concern that has come is the number of positives and how quickly they're ramping up and happening," said  Tarrant County Vector Control Supervisor Nina Dacko recently told KRLD.

About 80 percent of people infected do not show any symptoms. Those that do can experience body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. However, there are some symptoms that overlap with COVID-19.

"The number one shared between the two is fever," said Dacko. "So when you have a persistent fever and it's not COVID-19, make sure the doctor is testing for West Nile."

She's urging people to take precautions to limit their risk of exposure to West Nile. Those include using insect repellent, clearing any standing water from around their home where mosquitoes can breed, wearing long pants and sleeves while outdoors, and avoiding outdoor activity at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active. These precautions also apply to people looking for safe, outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People are outside a lot more and so that's a bit of a concern with the West Nile activity we're having," Dacko said. "We just want to make sure that people don't forget about West Nile Virus, because it's still a concern and it's still here."