Prevention Struggles Keeping Up With Rising West Nile Cases

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - At first, Medical Center Hospital in Odessa had only treated four West Nile cases out of Andrews County.

On Tuesday, they treated their first Ector County case.

"It's not unexpected. The counties are very close by. We do expect some migration of disease," MCH Infectious Disease Preventionist, Dr. Satish Mocherla, said.

Outside the hospital, the West Nile count stretches higher.

"I recently checked about 30 minutes ago and so we're still at three cases," Ector County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager, Dillon Harris, said.

Now West Texas hospitals are alerting each other each time a case emerges, trying to grab a handle on a disease that could have gained ground from the West Texas heat.

"There was a really mild winter, which the winter usually kills off the mosquitoes," Harris said.

One question on a lot of West Texas minds is: Are we going to start taking our mosquito spraying to the sky like bigger cities like Dallas are doing?

Officials with both cities of Midland and Odessa said airplane spraying isn't being planned but crews are still working, responding to people's calls about where the most mosquitoes are and spraying those areas down.

Meanwhile, health officials have recommendations.

"Mosquito repellant," Mocherla said.

"Wear long sleeves, if possible," Harris said. "Dusk and dawn, try to stay inside as much as possible."

"Pails of water left outside for the animals or the dogs to get access to," Mocherla said. "Those can be potential breeding spots."

West Nile can range from no symptoms to normal flu symptoms to something much worse.

"The Neural Invasive Disease, there is that disease where you get meningitis and swelling of the brain," Mocherla said.

But there's good news on that front.

"Only one in about 100 infections ultimately results in Neural Invasive Disease," Mocherla said.