After the season’s first positive mosquito-trap test in Cedar Hill, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is preparing early for the West Nile virus season and urging county residents to do the same.
According to Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., Director of Infectious Disease at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, there is a lot of variability in the number of West Nile virus cases from season to season, so it is hard to predict how much activity will be seen in a given year.
“The first indication of West Nile in the area is through the county,” Dr. Kahn says. “Since a positive mosquito test has been discovered, we know we may start seeing some cases in the community.”
How Can I Protect My Child From West Nile Virus?
Now that mosquito season has arrived, take precautions to protect your children from mosquito exposure.
|Five Tips to Avoid Mosquitoes|
|• Keep your child indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.|
|• Use insect repellent with DEET (only for children 2 months and older) when your child will be playing in the yard. The concentration of DEET should not be more than 30%.|
|• Avoid the use of scented soaps, hairspray and perfumes.|
|• Dress your child in light clothing with long sleeves, particularly at dawn and dusk.|
|• Drain any standing water around your house.|
You can help limit the spread of West Nile virus by draining any standing water around your house to eliminate breeding areas for mosquitoes as much as possible. DCHHS recommends changing the water in wading pools, bird baths and pet dishes several times a week.
How Dangerous Is West Nile Virus?
Fortunately, the majority of children who get West Nile virus will have no symptoms at all. A small percentage will develop flu-like symptoms.
Fewer than 1% of people who contract the virus will develop the most severe form of West Nile virus, which attacks the nervous system.
Take your child to the emergency room if he or she has any of the following symptoms:
- Weakness or numbness
- Inability to talk
- Mental status changes
- High fever
“A child with any of the symptoms listed should be tested for West Nile virus,” Dr. Kahn says.
Dr. Kahn also cautions parents to be mindful of county spraying schedules and keep children and pets inside when the county is spraying for mosquitoes.
To find out when mosquitoes that are carrying West Nile virus have been discovered in your area and to review the county’s spraying schedule, visit the Dallas County website or your local county’s website if you live elsewhere.