Thursday, Dallas County Health and Human Services announced it had found more mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus across five ZIP codes.
That woman, Carol Autry, remains at Texas Health Presbyterian where her family said doctors are working to get her stable enough to move to rehab.
Her husband Don said it was just two weeks ago that Carol began to feel ill.
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"She didn't have any energy. Didn't want to eat. All she wanted to do was sleep,” said Autry.
Initially, Autry told NBC 5, their doctor couldn't find anything wrong. A few days later, a call to 911 resulted in a trip to the emergency room and then when Carol struggled to breathe, the ICU.
“Just not knowing what was wrong with her and knowing something was, that was hard on all of us,” said Don Autry.
But eventually, a spinal tap pointed to an unsuspecting cause, West Nile virus, the first human case confirmed in Dallas County this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected, four out of five, never show symptoms. But like Carol, about one in 150 face severe illness due to inflammation of the brain, also known as encephalitis. And in that case, Autry said they've been told there's not much to do but wait.
“The doctor told us, you know, it could run two weeks to two months, and there's absolutely no way to know at this point. It's just when it goes away it goes away,” he said.
Over the last several days, Autry said Carol's shown some signs of improvement, graduating off a ventilator and even carrying on small conversations.
He hopes in the next couple of days she'll head to rehab. But at this point, it’s too soon to know whether she could face long-term side effects.
“It’s certainly a long way to go from there," said Autry.
That’s why health officials urge people to cover their skin and protect themselves with repellant when they head outdoors.
They preach the Four Ds:
- Dress in long sleeves, pants when outside: For extra protection, spray thin clothing with repellent.
- DEET: Make sure this ingredient is in your insect repellent.
- Drain standing water in your yard and neighborhood: Mosquitoes can develop in any water stagnant for more than three days.
It has been recommended in the past that to avoid mosquito bites you should avoid being outdoors during Dusk and Dawn (the 4 Ds). While this is true for mosquitoes that commonly carry the West Nile virus, other types of mosquitoes that are more likely to carry Zika, dengue and chikungunya are active during the day. When outdoors, no matter what time of day, adjust your dress accordingly and wear insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus as your first line of defense against insect bites.
Mosquito samples in Cedar Hill, Dallas, Highland Park, Mesquite, and University Park have tested positive for West Nile this year, leading to sporadic spraying.