TEMPLE, Texas (FOX 44) – The Bell County Public Health District (BCPH) has announced the first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) reported in Bell County for 2023.

The Health District says that the patient is a male resident of Bell County, and was diagnosed with West Nile neuroinvasive disease. Due to privacy and confidentiality reasons, the Health District will not disclose any additional information about the patient.

WNV is a disease spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. It can infect humans, birds, horses, and mosquitoes, along with other animals such as dogs or bats, as well as poultry. Poultry are quick to clear WNV infection from their body, thus presenting a low risk for transmission.

Humans get WNV through infected mosquito bites. The Health District says that mosquitoes cannot bite infected humans and become infected. Humans are generally at a low risk of serious infection, and cannot spread WNV from human to human. However, severe WNV infections can cause neurologic complications such as encephalitis and meningitis.

Symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph nodes and diarrhea. Those ages 50 and older with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for severe symptoms – which could include stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, vision loss, paralysis, and in rare cases, death.

The Health District says there is no vaccine or specific treatment for WNV in humans.

This year, the Health District is piloting a mosquito surveillance program. Through surveillance activities, the Health District has found 16 positive sample testing pools in four Bell County communities – including Belton, Harker Heights, Killeen and Temple – confirming the presence of the mosquito that transmits WNV in Bell County.

The Health District says these are some of the best steps citizens can take to help protect themselves and their families:

DEFEND: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA-approved repellents and follow instructions.

• DRESS: Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk.

• DRAIN: Drain or treat all standing water in and around your home or workplace where mosquitoes could lay eggs.

For more information, you can visit the Department of State Health Services’ West Nile website at txwestnile.org or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/westnile.