It’s been more than a month since two batches of mosquitoes from Port Arthur tested positive for the West Nile Virus, and now the problem has buzzed its way into Beaumont, according to Kevin Sexton, director of Jefferson County Mosquito Control.
“They were collected on July 31, and we received information yesterday (Aug. 8) that the pool had tested positive,” Sexton said. “It was at Park and Saxe avenues in the South Park area in Beaumont.”
Sexton said people need to take all the precautions they can, especially the ones that are more susceptible — the elderly, young kids and people that have weak immune systems for whatever reason. “They are the ones that are at more risk or in danger of contracting (West Nile),” he said. “I would really recommend they stay inside from dusk to dawn if they can. If they have to get out, wear long sleeve clothes, long pants and a good repellant.”
Sherry Ulmer, public health director at the Beaumont Public Health Department, says the problem might be due to the recent rains and the warm weather. She said it was hard to say whether West Nile would continue to be a growing problem in the area.
“We have begun to see some human cases of West Nile in past years,” she said. “That’s why it is important for people to heed these precautions because there are things people can do to prevent themselves from getting exposed.”
According to the Beaumont Public Health Department, there are two types of West Nile virus, contracted from the genus Culex. Symptoms of West Nile fever, the milder form, include fever, headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness. The more serious form of the virus, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, includes symptoms such as stiff neck, visual problems, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss and seizures.
“So far in Beaumont, we have not had any cases of West Nile virus this year,” Ulmer said. “Statewide there have been 111 human West Nile virus cases and one death reported this year. Of those 111 cases, 71 were the most serious form of West Nile, West Nile neuroinvasive disease. Only 40 were the West Nile fever cases.”