So far, though, no mosquito has tested positive in Kleberg Co.

Georgia Wingate Thompson, Kleberg County Correspondent

An elderly Kingsville was stricken with the West Nile virus and later died, according to a press release from the Kingsville and Kleberg County Health Department Director.

However, Yolanda Cadena, Kingsville and Kleberg County Health Director, said none of the mosquitoes trapped in this county have so far tested positive for the virus.

"We've not had any mosquitoes come back positive from our once-a-month testing," Cadena said. "However, this case is a concern and we do need to protect ourselves."

She said the case was confirmed through the Department of State Health Services on Sept. 20 and that the victim, whose name she could not disclose for privacy reasons, was being treated for West Nile severe neuralgic disease in a Corpus Christi hospital.

"This is our first case of West Nile and a concern but we don't know if it was contracted in this county or somewhere else," Cadena said. "We are continuing to test and spray and adding larvicide's to standing water in the city's ditches as much as we can."

Spraying for mosquitoes in Kleberg County is conducted on a precinct-by-precinct basis by county government.

Cadena urged area residents to take precautions to minimize the risk of contact with mosquitoes and the potential for West Nile Virus.

"People need to clean their property of debris, mowed grass and eliminate standing water from rain gutters, old tires and repair leaks around faucets and air conditioners to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites," Cadena said. "Also, be aware that two hours after dusk is when the West Nile carrying mosquitoes are most active."

Cadena said the incubation period for West Nile virus in humans is three to 14 days and most people over the age of 50 are at the highest risk of severe disease. Only about one of 150 people infected with the virus will develop into a more severe form of the disease.

"The public is advised to report to their physician if they experience fever, headache, body aches an occasional skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands," Cadena said. "Severe symptoms include headache, body aches, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, convulsions and muscle weakness."

West Nile explained

What is West Nile?

West Nile virus is a virus commonly found in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East. It is not known how long it has been in the United States, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe the virus probably has been in the eastern United States since early summer of 1999.

It is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus found in the United States. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and some other animals.

How can I reduce my risk of getting West Nile virus?

Preventing mosquito bite is the best way to avoid getting West Nile virus. Remember the "Four Ds" of DEET, Dress, Dusk and Dawn, and Drain:

Apply insect repellent that contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide.). Be sure to read label instructions. Spray clothing with repellent as well as exposed skin.

Dress in long sleeves and long pants when outside.

Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, times when infected mosquitoes are most active.

Drain standing water in backyards and neighborhoods; old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters are mosquito-breeding sites.

What are the symptoms?

Most people infected with West Nile virus will not have any signs of illness. Twenty percent of people who become infected will have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

The symptoms of severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Only about one out of 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop this more severe form of the disease.

The incubation period of West Nile Virus in humans is three to 14 days. Symptoms of mild disease may last a few days. Symptoms of severe disease may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent. Rarely, death can occur.

How is it spread?

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals. There is no evidence that West Nile virus can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.

Who is at risk for West Nile virus?

People over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease. It is not known if people with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk for West Nile Virus.

How is West Nile Virus treated?

There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection. In severe cases, intensive supportive therapies are indicated, such as intravenous fluids and medicine to control fever or pain. Antibiotics may be given for secondary bacterial infection.

Can I be vaccinated for West Nile Virus?

Currently there is no vaccine for West Nile virus, but several companies are working toward developing a vaccine.

Is this a seasonal virus?

West Nile encephalitis cases usually occur in the late summer or early fall. However, Texas has a variety of climates; and when temperatures are mild; West Nile Virus can be transmitted year round. It is best to try to protect oneself year-round.

How likely am I to be bitten by an infected mosquito?

Less than one percent of those bitten by infected mosquitoes become severely ill. People with any of the symptoms mentioned here should contact their doctor immediately.For more information contact the local health department at 592-3324. West Nile virus information may also be found on the Texas Department of Health Web site at www.tdh.stat.tx.us and the CDC web site at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm