West Nile Virus on the Rise

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The number of West Nile cases is well above where it was this time last year.

So far nine mosquito tests have turned up positive, plus one bird. The Brazos County Health Department says positive cases are usually discovered in late July. The first case this year was discovered in June.

"It's about a month early and we attribute that to a couple of factors, one of which we feel like is that the mosquitoes that carry West Nile were around all winter since we had a very mild winter and also we had unusual rains in July which put a few mosquitoes out there," Don Plitt with the Brazos County Health Department said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry.

The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill.

To avoid West Nile use insect repellent on exposed skin when you go outdoors. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those with DEET.

Wear long sleeves during peak mosquito biting hours, and spray repellent directly onto your clothes.

The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning, or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.

Drain standing water from around your home, because mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.

Keep mosquitoes outside by having well-fitting screens on both windows and doors.

Report dead birds to local authorities. Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area.

Symptoms are flu-like in nature.