Some mosquitoes in Cedar Park have tested positive for West Nile virus, city officials announced Tuesday. But health officials say residents shouldn’t confuse West Nile with other mosquito-borne diseases, so here are five things to know:
1. Just skeeters so far: No human cases of West Nile have been reported in Cedar Park, and Williamson County hasn’t seen any human cases since last year. Hutto reported West Nile mosquitoes last week, but no human cases.
2. Not the Zika ones: Only mosquitoes can transmit the virus. The ones that tested positive in Cedar Park, of the species Culex quinquefasciatus, were caught near Elizabeth Milburn Park and are different from the mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti.
3. Eight in 10 won’t see symptoms: Health officials say 20 percent of those infected might experience mild symptoms such as fever, headaches, body rash and swollen lymph glands for a few days. About 1 in 150 might develop a severe infection, which can lead to high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. The parents of a 13-year-old from Bastrop County said their son died last year from West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
4. Who’s at risk? People older than 50 and those with weakened immune systems have the highest risk of infection.
5. Use the three D’s: No vaccine exists for West Nile, so to cut your chances of mosquito bites, drain standing water on your property so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed, defend against bites by using an EPA-approved insect repellent, and dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors.