Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Texas
Mosquitoes exist across the entire world and have been identified as fairly common in the U.S and in Texas. Due to their attraction to warmer climates, Texas experiences mosquitoes all year long, but has increased occurrences during the summer months. Capable of spreading diseases quickly, they are considered one of the deadliest creatures on the planet.
As the summer months approach and mosquitoes become more common in Texas, it is important to stay informed about common mosquito diseases in Texas and to take the necessary precautions to limit exposure to prevent bites.
West Nile Virus
As the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S, the West Nile Virus is a serious concern in Texas. Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever or minor symptoms, while 1 in 150 will develop a serious illness. Mild to severe symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, stiff neck, sleepiness, coma, or paralysis. This deadly disease is commonly spread to people by infected mosquitoes during the summer and fall seasons. Wearing long-sleeved protective clothing and insect repellent will help to prevent mosquito bites and the spread of West Nile in Texas.
Commonly transferred to humans through infected Aedes species mosquitoes, the Zika virus in Texas can be spread through a bite during the day or night. Although many people who are affected will not have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, causing congenital disabilities and other severe fetal brain defects. Symptoms in adults include fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Furthermore, there is currently no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the Zika virus, and using protective measures is key for prevention.
Although more common within the Caribbean, there has been a confirmed case of Chikungunya in Texas. Thankfully, the risk of the Chikungunya virus being a major issue depends on if already infected travelers from the islands come to Texas. Additionally, the disease is generally not fatal, but can cause joint pain, headaches, joint swelling, muscle pain, or a rash. Newborns and those above the age of 65 are at higher risk for more severe symptoms if they become infected with Chikungunya.
Dengue fever in Texas does not occur often but can still be spread on occasion due to travelers going to tropic and subtropic locations. Spread by the Aedes mosquitoes, Dengue fever can be transmitted by a mosquito within a week after biting an infected person and is primarily found in the Gulf Coast or extreme southern regions. Symptoms from this virus are caused by multiplying and damaging cells, resulting in headaches, high fevers, joint and back pain, rashes, and eye