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Experts share protection tips for West Nile Virus and COVID-19

Posted Aug. 6, 2020

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The City of Fort Worth, in partnership with The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, is reminding residents to protect themselves against the West Nile virus even as they guard against COVID-19.

Although mosquitos do not carry the COVID-19 virus, residents shouldn’t minimize the dangers of West Nile virus.

In Fort Worth, West Nile virus is on the rise and can display similar symptoms to COVID-19: fever or chills, headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and continued fatigue and weakness.

West Nile virus activities in the mosquito population are currently higher than 2015 or 2016 when Tarrant County had 26 and 27 serious cases respectively, said Joon-Hak Lee, associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at HSC. At that time, the estimated number of West Nile virus infections was about 6,600. Lee said many of the people infected were asymptomatic while others experienced mild symptoms.

Lee, who is monitoring the West Nile virus and COVID-19 as part of a continuing collaboration with the City of Fort Worth, warns that key indicators point to a possible increase in West Nile virus infections this year.

Like COVID-19, virus prevention and control depends on personal efforts by individuals to minimize the risk of exposure.

Advice to protect against West Nile virus

  • Avoid being outdoors for extended periods of time between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., when mosquito activity is highest.
  • Cover arms and legs while outside, and spray DEET insect repellant on shirts and clothing before you head outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water in yards and neighborhoods.
  • The elderly and those with weakened immune systems should use caution, as they can be particularly susceptible to the West Nile virus.

Guidance to protect against COVID-19

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others.

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