What Is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness that occurs in North Texas during the summer and fall months. This illness is spread by mosquito bite.

What Can I Do to Prevent West Nile Virus?

According to the CDC, the easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to Fight the Bite through the following steps known as the 4 D's:

  • DRAIN standing water in the areas around your property. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used. 
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N-diethyl-m-toluamide).
  • Stay indoors during DUSK and DAWN, as these are the times when mosquitos are most active.
  • DRESS in long sleeves and pants when you have to be outside. For extra protection, spray your clothes with a thin layer of insect repellent containing DEET. Also, make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

What is the City of Southlake doing to prevent West Nile Virus?

  • Locations in Southlake that test positive for WNV are treated to kill mosquito larvae. In addition to treating areas that have tested positive, the City also proactively seeks to eliminate standing water on public property and treats any areas where standing water has accumulated.

 Additional Information and Questions
If you would like additional information regarding West Nile Virus, please refer to the information below or visit the Centers for Disease Control website. If you would like to contact the City regarding West Nile Virus, please call Amanda Meneses at 817-748-8903.

What are the symptoms of WNV?

  • No Symptoms in Most People - approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
  • Milder Symptoms in Some People -up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have milder symptoms that can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. These symptoms include:
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Body aches
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Swollen lymph glands
    • Skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
  • Serious Symptoms in a Few People – about one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. The severe symptoms can include:
    • High fever
    • Headache
    • Neck stiffness
    • Stupor
    • Disorientation
    • Coma
    • Tremors
    • Convulsions
    • Muscle weakness
    • Vision loss
    • Numbness
    • Paralysis.

How Does West Nile Virus Spread?

  • Infected Mosquitoes - most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
  • Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child -  in a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.
  • Not through touching - WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

How Soon Do Infected People Get Sick?

People typically develop symptoms between 3 and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.

How Is WNV Infection Treated?

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have WNV?

Milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Severe WNV illness usually requires hospitalization. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.

What Is the Risk of Getting Sick from WNV?

  • People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.
  • The more time you're outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing.
  • All donated blood is checked for WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery from having it. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.