Suspected Galveston West Nile was False Positive

The first confirmed report of human West Nile virus in Galveston County this year is now considered negative, according to the Department of State Health Services.

The change in status came Tuesday -- just two weeks after Galveston County Health District reported the county’s first human West Nile virus case as positive July 17 after initial confirmation by DSHS.

However, DSHS confirmed that further testing at the state lab shows the specimen is actually negative for West Nile virus and St. Louis Encephalitis virus, both mosquito-borne viruses.

“The lab that initially tested the patient specimen reported a positive for West Nile virus to the state. We were then alerted and conducted a patient interview,” said Randy Valcin, GCHD director of epidemiology and public health preparedness. “We interviewed the patient and she had every symptom and met the case definition for West Nile.”

With new results from the state, DSHS has now removed the case from its report.

Still, Galveston County residents should remain on alert when it comes to protecting themselves against mosquitoes.

“Whether it’s West Nile, Zika, chikungunya or other diseases, you need to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” said GCHD CEO Kathy Barroso. “Now is the time that we typically see an increase in mosquitoes. We encourage you to use insect repellant when outdoors and to do your part to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by emptying all standing water around your home or business.”

Be sure to remember the 3-D’s: Defend – wear EPA-approved insect repellent with DEET in it; Dress – dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors; and Drain – drain standing water around homes and businesses so that mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.

Most people infected with WNV do not have symptoms. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms including headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with WNV recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness like encephalitis or meningitis. Symptoms can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.

Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but those 60 years or older are at the greatest risk for severe disease, as are people with certain medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplant recipients.

“Anyone who experiences symptoms – regardless of age – should contact their health care provider,” Barroso said.

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