Bell County confirms its first human case of West Nile virus for 2023

Bell County has confirmed its first human case of West Nile virus for 2023.

Bell County Public Health District (BCPH) says the case is a man in Bell County who had been diagnosed with West Nile neuroinvasive disease.

BCPH is not disclosing any additional information about her due to privacy and confidentiality reasons.

So far this year, BCPH has found 16 positive sample testing pools in four communities including Belton, Harker Heights, Killeen, and Temple.

What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can infect humans, birds, horses, mosquitos, along with other animals such as dogs or bats and poultry.

Generally, humans are at low risk of serious infection and cannot spread the virus from human to human. However, severe infections can cause neurologic complications such as encephalitis and/or meningitis.

Symptoms of infection may include fever, headache, and body aches, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph nodes. Those age 50 and older and/or with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for severe symptoms, which may include stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, vision loss, paralysis, and in rare cases, death. 

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for West Nile virus in humans.

What can I do to prevent West Nile virus?

Here are the best steps citizens can take to help protect themselves and their families:

  • DEFEND: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA-approved repellents and follow instructions.
  • DRESS: Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • DRAIN: Drain or treat all standing water in and around your home or workplace where mosquitoes could lay eggs.

For more information, visit the Department of State Health Services West Nile website or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).