Severe illness rare despite presence of West Nile virus

SAN ANTONIO - One case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed in San Antonio and seven deaths have been reported in Texas.

But doctors want people to know that even though there are infected mosquitoes in the area, the chances of getting seriously sick are very low.

"Most of the people -- about 80 percent of the people infected -- will have no symptoms whatsoever. About 20 percent of the people will have very, very mild symptoms," Dr. Evan Ratner, medical director and owner of Impact Urgent Care, said.

Less than 1 percent of people who get West Nile Virus get severe symptoms.

Those could include:

  • high fever
  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • convulsions

He said those signs are indications that the virus is affecting the brain and fluid around it.

Katherine Klein said her family has seen more mosquitoes than they expected since moving to San Antonio two months ago.

"When we would do activities outdoors in the evenings, we started noticing that our legs were getting bitten and that there seemed to be quite a lot of mosquitoes here," she said.

Until she heard about West Nile virus, she wasn't worried about the bugs.

Now she's planning to apply bug repellant when her kids are outside, which is what Ratner recommends.

"It doesn't take a lot of time to just put some bug spray on, and make sure that we can prevent it, because you never know, even with that 1 percent," she said.

Ratner also recommends draining areas where water accumulates and getting rid of things like cups, cans or tires that can hold water.

Plus, he said it's best to avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.


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