Commerce tested positive for West Nile

Sara Wray, Staff Writer

A positive test of the West Nile Virus was recently found in Commerce near the City Park on Pecan Street, less than a mile from the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus.

The City of Commerce and the university have recently tested mosquitoes for different diseases by collecting and sending samples to the Department of State Health Services to be analyzed. Although a test came back positive for the virus, no human reports of West Nile have been reported.

“The risk [of becoming ill with West Nile Virus] is very low,” the Texas Department of State Health Services’ website states. “Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Plus, even if the mosquito is infected, less than 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill.”

The West Nile Virus is commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the virus has been in the United States since the summer of 1999. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses, among other animals, though there is no evidence that it can spread from person to person or animal to person.

Most people that get infected with West Nile Virus will not show any symptoms. However, according to the West Nile information website, 20% of infected people will have mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and other mild symptoms. Severe infection symptoms include headache, high fever, disorientation, and more.

Emergency management officials and city staff are planning to continue to test for infected mosquitoes in all areas of Commerce. The area where the virus was found was sprayed for mosquitoes for three consecutive days beginning the day the virus was found.

The emergency management staff wants everyone to take precautionary measures to protect themselves from mosquitoes. The West Nile information website suggests using the “Four D’s” to protect against West Nile Virus. The first “D” is to stay indoors at dusk and dawn, the second is to dress in light-colored long sleeves and pants when going outside, the third is to use insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and the last one is to drain standing water where mosquitoes often breed. The Texas Department of State Health Services’ website also adds to use air conditioning or make sure all doors and windows have screens before opening for fresh air.