West Nile confirmed in Howard County

The first case of West Nile virus, a disease carried by mosquitos, has been confirmed in Howard County. According to Dr. Manuel Carrasco, who has been in practice in Big Spring since 1993, the first case was confirmed Thursday in an elderly patient. “I have never heard of any case prior to this in the county. This is the first case that I am aware of,” Dr. Carrasco said. The patient was admitted to Scenic Mountain Medical Center and is doing well, at this point. According to reports, the patient had been bitten while in Colorado City. “We did not find any evidence of insect bites on the physical exam, but he was confused, which triggered our suspicion,” Carrasco said. In addition, the patient showed a high fever and body aches. He was also incoherent and refused to eat. West Nile encephalitis was first introduced into the United States in 1999, with the first case being reported in New York but by 2003 it had spread to 46 states. This year has marked the most intense ever, especially in Texas. There have been many cases confirmed in Andrews, Midland and Ector County. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been more than 580 cases reported in Texas this year. Out of those cases, there have been more than 20 fatalities.“The best thing people can do is stay indoors around dusk and get rid of all stagnant water,” Carrasco said. “If you notice any unexplainable symptoms, such as headache, fever or other flu-like symptoms, it is best to go see a physician.”Elderly individuals are more susceptible to complications of West Nile and should see a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms are detected. There is no specific therapy for West Nile and while most people can recover from the virus on their own, there are some instances where it can be fatal. Contact Staff Writer Amanda Duforat at 263-7331 ext. 234 or by e-mail at life@bigspringherald.com