According to the health officials, a mild winter means a potentially severe summer for mosquitoes and the resulting West Nile virus.
While Denton and Collin county traps haven’t reported positive West Nile cases, Dallas County has not faired so well. Since April 30, Dallas County Health has reported no less than eight positives in developed cities including Mesquite, Carrollton and Richardson. Tarrant County reported its first positive trap on June 19 in Colleyville.
West Nile virus is among several mosquito-borne illnesses and is not specifically treatable, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). It can causes flu-like symptoms including fever, head and body aches and sometimes a rash.
TDSHS notes that most people infected with West Nile will not develop illness; however, about 20 percent develop a typically mild form of West Nile fever. An event smaller segment – about one in 150 – will develop the more severe form, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, which can affect the brain and spinal cord.
There’s only one sure-fire way to prevent contracting West Nile through its most common carrier – don’t get bit.
TDSHS offers four tips to prevent mosquito bites:
1. Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside. Approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the instructions on the label.
2. Regularly drain standing water, including water that collects in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
3. Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
4. Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
In Frisco, areas of stagnant water are treated with a larvicide, and the city performs a mosquito science-based surveillance program where mosquitoes are trapped and shipped for testing by a contracted entomologist to identify diseased mosquitoes. Continuous monitoring of areas is done to allow for source reduction elimination to eliminate breeding habitats and areas of standing water.