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State Agencies Monitor West Nile Virus
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 8/17/2012 Views: 4425  Impressions: 16269
Categories: Home Life: Environmental, Home Life: Health, Politics

As has been widely reported, cases of West Nile Virus are on the rise in Texas, especially in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. This week, I will discuss the state's role during a public health threat.
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) collects information regarding infection rates from local health departments. While there are no mandatory reporting requirements, most local health departments will report infections such as the West Nile Virus to DSHS. Some local departments also collect and test mosquitos for infection, and may also report that statistic to DSHS. DSHS does not take statewide action regarding such outbreaks, but rather assists local authorities as needed. Local authorities can ask DSHS to provide spray trucks, insecticides, help analyze data, and process other pertinent information. DSHS primary objective is to provide information to the public and local officials regarding any public health threat.
Since the virus also affects birds and horses, DSHS also takes reports from the Texas Animal Health Commission. The Texas Department of Public Safety has also been involved in issuing bulletins regarding the recent cases of West Nile Virus. The State Medical Operations Center helps coordinate between the various state agencies by ensuring that everyone has access to timely and accurate information.
West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes and can infect humans, birds, horses and other animals. The symptoms of a severe infection include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Since it is a virus, there is no specific treatment for the disease. Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid getting the West Nile virus. The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends adhering to the "Four D's" - DEET, Dress, Dusk/Dawn, and Drain:
* Apply repellent that contains DEET. Spray clothing and exposed skin.
* Dress in long sleeves.
* Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so staying indoors when possible will reduce risk.
* Drain any standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

For additional information about the West Nile Virus, please visit:;;

You can contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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