West Nile Virus

The City of Brownsville Public Health Department received confirmation that one local mosquito trap sample has tested positive for the West Nile Virus. No known human cases exist in Brownsville or in the South Texas area at present, however local doctors and other medical officials have been made aware to be on the lookout for symptoms related to the disease through the county health department. City of Brownsville officials are working closely with state, county and other health officials to monitor progression of this virus.

The Health Department is urging people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, a mosquito borne illness. People should use insect repellent when outdoors and avoid going outside at dusk and dawn.

Local Health Department officials have been monitoring local mosquito samples carefully throughout the recent statewide West Nile outbreak, and have, in fact, increased local surveillance in an attempt to quickly detect the virus if and when it made its way to the City. Crews have been spraying various parts of the city proactively, and will continue spraying in the days to come in an attempt to continue to minimize the potential risk to local residents.


Humans can contract West Nile virus from the bite of an infected mosquito, which typically get the virus from feeding on infected birds. The virus can cause serious illness or death in humans. West Nile neuroinvasive disease symptoms include stiff neck, visual problems, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss and seizures. The milder form of the illness is known as West Nile fever, and has symptoms that include fever, headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness.

People with the milder form of illness typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. Up to 80% of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms and will recover on their own.

In Texas this year there has been a higher than usual number of human West Nile attributed to the warm winter and recent rains in the state. The intensity of West Nile virus activity in Texas fluctuates from year to year and depends on a variety of factors including the weather, the numbers of birds and mosquitoes that maintain and spread the virus and human behavior. The season can last up until the first hard freeze of the year.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms that cause them concern, they should contact their healthcare provider.


To reduce exposure to West Nile virus:
  • Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Regularly drain standing water, including water collects in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
  • Wear light-colored long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.


For more information on West Nile statistics, visit the City of Brownsville Health Department website, or call us at 956-542-3437, or visit the State of Texas DSHS website.