Concern Increases With The Growing Number Of West Nile Virus Cases

As two more people are diagnosed with West Nile virus in Harris County, Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee held an emergency preparedness briefing on options for responding and managing the spread of the potentially fatal disease.

It was a who's who of state and local officials from the government and the medical community, as well as representatives from Surgeon General's office and the Centers for Disease Control.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says it's important that the public stay informed.

"Just general preparedness for the nation, which includes infectious disease, a vast range of issues dealing with the impact on vast numbers of people. I think it is very important that people are aware, and I think one of the striking messages that came out of this meeting, was how West Nile virus is underreported, or under-diagnosed. That's a key piece of information."

Jackson-Lee says the informational dialogue was helpful with agency representatives charged with keeping residents here and abroad healthy and disease-free.

"It is one that I think is important to expand the Centers for Disease Control research and research dollars to pinpoint one, how do you improve diagnosis and then two, the additional research that requires."

She says residents may not realize standing water in outside containers, like flowerpots, tires and toys, serve as excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus.

"I do encourage people to empty standing water that is in and around your property, and also encourage people to be mindful of being out where you are not covered, at the dawn and at sunset, where mosquitoes are most active and most able to infect."

She reminds residents that using repellent with DEET is a must when venturing outdoors. Historically, July through September is the peak time frame for West Nile virus to strike humans. You can find more information at www.hcphes.org.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...