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Dallas County Declares West Nile Virus State of Emergency

Dallas County has moved to declare a West Nile Virus State of Emergency in the face of an ever-increasing pool of individuals who have contracted the disease.

NBC 5, reports that the number of human cases of the virus in Dallas County is up to 175, and there have been nine deaths.

County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement, "This declaration will expand our avenues for assistance in our ongoing battle with West Nile virus. We are in constant communication with our state and regional partners."

NBC 5 is also reporting that a meeting has been called for county commissioners to consider aerial spraying of mosquito breeding grounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, West Nile Virus can vary greatly in severity, from few or no symptoms to severe, fatal complications.

Infection with WNV can be asymptomtic (no symptoms), or can lead to West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease.

It is estimated that about 20% of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.

The symptoms of severe disease (also called neuroinvasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV.

When out of doors particularly in early morning and late evening hours it is recommended that a mosquito repellent containing DEET be used. Although DEET has potential side-effects, the potential of disease is much greater.

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