The early visit of an unwanted guest
Texas: West Nile virus infected bird found in Houston

(Excerpted from this report.)

Officials in Houston, Texas, have discovered West Nile virus in a bird, but
its early detection may not indicate a severe season. The fact the dead
blue jay (found in north west Houston on 22 Jan 2004) tested positive for
West Nile virus indicates the virus survived through winter and that Texas
can expect to grapple with the mosquitoborne virus again this summer,
according to Ray Parsons, head of Harris County's mosquito control division.

In 2003, infected birds were not found until May [2003], but the early
detection is probably not an indicator of the severity of the problem West
Nile [may] pose this year, the Houston Chronicle reported on Tue 10 Feb
2004. "There is really no need for alarm right now," Parsons said. "We
wanted to put this information out because if we find something, we want to
let the public know."

The vast majority of people who become infected with West Nile virus show
no symptoms, or only mild symptoms such as a low fever. Severe symptoms,
such as high fever, stiff neck, and muscle weakness, usually occur between
5 and 15 days after a bite from a virus-carrying mosquito, usually after
the month of June.

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