Panola and Gregg County are each reporting one person has died from West Nile Virus. These are the first confirmed deaths in East Texas from the mosquito-borne virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed 34 deaths statewide and 894 cases of the West Nile illness. More than 60 cases of West Nile have been confirmed in East Texas, including 9 cases in Smith County and 16 in Gregg County.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus. There are two forms of the illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND) and West Nile fever (WN fever). The symptoms of severe infection from West Nile neuroinvasive disease include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. West Nile fever is the milder form of the illness. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

DSHS reminds Texans to reduce the risk of exposure by eliminating standing water and other mosquito breeding areas; making sure door, porch and window screens are in good condition; and using a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when outdoors.