CARROLLTON – A second Denton County resident has died from complications involving the West Nile virus, officials say.
The victim lived in Carrollton, was in her 80s, and had underlying health conditions. Denton County Health Department spokesman Bob Martinez said patient confidentiality laws prohibit him from releasing more information about the victim.
The death comes two days after Denton County Judge Mary Horn signed a disaster declaration, allowing municipalities to opt in for aerial spraying against mosquitoes carrying the virus. Cities have until Tuesday to decide to participate.
As of this writing, there have been 119 human cases of the West Nile Virus diagnosed in Denton County residents. Addressing the media during a news conference Thursday, Health Department director Bing Burton said Denton County had the highest per capita rate of West Nile in the state and possibly the nation –– 16.3 cases per 100,000 residents.
“That’s a dubious honor that we’re not real proud of,” he said.
The first death was announced August 5 –– the health department said it was a man in his 90s who lived in Denton with underlying health problems. The two victims tragically fit into the demographic of those who suffer severe symptoms after getting West Nile.
The neuroinvasive form of the disease, which is the most serious, usually manifests in victims older than 50 with weakened immune systems. Fewer than 1 percent of infected victims will suffer from that form.
So far this summer, 11 Dallas County residents have died from West Nile along with four in Tarrant, one in Ellis and one in Collin.
Denton County also sends the bulleted points below, which is what residents are advised to do to avoid being bitten by a mosquito –– the most surefire of ways to avoid getting West Nile. Pasted verbatim:
- Drain standing water around their homes to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. Consider use of BTI briquettes (or mosquito dunks) in water that cannot be drained, such as small ponds and drinking troughs.
- Stay indoors at Dusk and Dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) to exposed skin and to clothing when outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends Picaridin (KBR 3023).
- Dress in pants and long sleeves when outside, but avoid becoming too hot.