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(HOUSTON) — Health officials in Harris County are scratching their heads over the extremely high levels of West Nile virus this year.

In 2012, there were 101 human West Nile virus cases reported in Harris County and four deaths in the city of Houston.  In 2013, the amount of activity dropped tremendously with diseased mosquitoes found in only four ZIP codes around Harris County. This year, that has increased to 92 ZIP codes so far, and we’re not even to August.

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The first local human case of West Nile virus was announced Wednesday. Health officials in Montgomery County said a man in his 60s is believed to be the first person in the Houston area to contract West Nile virus this year.

The man lives in The Woodlands, where several mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile. Crews spent late Tuesday and early Wednesday spraying the area, and they planned to fog storm sewers Wednesday afternoon.

SEE ALSO: The Woodlands Seeing High Levels of West Nile Virus

Dr. Kristy Murray with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital said Harris County could be next.

“We’re most definitely going to start seeing [human] cases here in Harris County,” she said.


The activity we’ve seen so far this year in Harris County mirrors what we saw two years ago, but the climate in 2012 was different with mostly dry, drought conditions.

“I wouldn’t actually have predicted this year to be as hot of a year as we’ve had so far, mostly because we’ve had almost too much rain,” Murray said. “Usually, when you have a lot of rain, it actually helps keep the mosquito population down.”

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To protect yourself, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and light-colored clothing. Use an insect repellent product that contains DEET, get rid of all standing water, cover trash containers so they won’t collect water and keep doors and window screens in good condition and sealed tightly to keep mosquitoes out of the house.

About one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

The virus enters the body and attacks the nervous system, sometimes causing encephalitis, meningitis or muscular paralysis. Early symptoms include nausea, muscle spasms, severe headaches, swelling, a rash, disorientation and high fever. It can potentially cause long-lasting or permanent nerve damage, similar to the effect of a stroke.

Anyone who notices symptoms that include nausea, muscle spasms, severe headaches, swelling, a rash, disorientation and high fever should consult a doctor.

SEE ALSO: How to Keep the Mosquitoes Out of Your Lawn

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NEWS 92 FM’s Trey Westerburg, Andrew Greenstein and Kristy Gillentine contributed to this report

EXCLUSIVE: 2014 Could Be Worst Year for West Nile in Harris Co.  was originally published on