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West Nile causing concerns in the Panhandle

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Amarillo, TX - West Nile continues to sicken hundreds of people across the state and is causing concerns right here in the Panhandle.

There are now ten cases of West Nile just in Randall County, with other cases in Moore, Hutchinson, and Deaf Smith Counties.

The cases are a combination of the two forms of West Nile, one of which is fairly mild, the other can be deadly.

You can tell the difference by the symptoms.

The neuroinvasive form attacks a person's neurological function, with symptoms from headache, high fever, disorientation, convulsions and even paralysis.

West Nile fever, is much more mild with symptoms including fever, body aches and a skin rash.

"We see west Nile fever which is typically a little less severe West Nile infection and than with West Nile neuroinvasive disease that can have serious neurological complications and can even sometimes be fatal," said Matt Richardson with the Department of Health in Amarillo.

Forty deaths in Texas are being blamed on West Nile, which the Department of State Health shows is an increase from years past.

"It is hard to know why this years numbers are higher in Texas or even in our region, we do know that the drought has had an impact on mosquito populations," added Richardson.

Richardson says we do know mosquitos are testing positive for the virus in our area, so it's best to be proactive.

"Avoiding mosquito bites is even more important than it has been in the past. So if you do have risk factors, if you do have an immune system that has been compromised or suppressed, it is really time to consider those prevention tips to avoid this potentially severe disease," said Richardson.

Officials say because so many people will be outside this holiday weekend, it is very important to use a repellent with DEET.

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