West Nile virus found in 2 mosquito traps in Georgetown

West Nile virus has been found in two mosquito traps in Georgetown, according to the Williamson County and Cities Health District.

Samples were collected Oct. 11 from the traps located in Geneva Park at 1021 Quail Valley Drive, and in Berry Creek at Diamond Dove Trail and Airport Road, says WCCHD. Positive lab results came back Thursday from the Texas Department of State Health Services lab in Austin.

So far in 2022, four mosquito sample pools have tested positive for West Nile virus in Williamson County, however this is the first time this year these traps have tested positive, according to WCCHD. The last positive trap collected at Geneva Park was in October 2018 and in October 2021 in Berry Creek.

No instances of human infection of West Nile virus has been reported in Williamson County this year so far, says WCCHD.

What can I do to prevent West Nile virus?

WCCHD recommends residents know the dangers of West Nile and to "fight the bite" with the Three D's:

  • Drain standing water in flowerpots, pet dishes, or clogged gutters so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed and treat water that can’t be drained
  • Defend by using an EPA-approved insect repellent
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors

How is West Nile virus spread?

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States and it is typically spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos become infected when they feed on infected birds, says the CDC.

According to the CDC, in a very small number of cases, West Nile virus has been spread through:

  • Exposure in a laboratory setting
  • Blood transfusion and organ transplant
  • Mother to baby, during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding

West Nile virus is not spread:

  • Through coughing, sneezing, or touching
  • By touching live animals
  • From handling live or dead infected birds. Avoid bare-handed contact when handling any dead animal. If you are disposing of a dead bird, use gloves or double plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
  • Through eating infected animals, including birds. Always follow instructions for fully cooking meat.

What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?

Most people (about 8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms, according to the CDC.

About 1 in 5 who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, says the CDC. Most people with febrile illness due to West Nile virus recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

About 1 in 150 who are infected can develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord), says the CDC.

  • Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
  • Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk for severe illness if they are infected (1 in 50 people). People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.
  • Recovery from severe illness might take several weeks or months. Some effects to the central nervous system might be permanent.
  • About 1 out of 10 people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die.

Mosquitoes are present in Central Texas year-round, but the population is largest and most active from May through November. During this period, WCCHD monitors the mosquito population and tests for mosquito-borne viruses.