Preparing For West Nile Virus

Posted by April Reiling on May 09, 2013
Tags: Community, Town News, Public Health, West Nile Virus

The first reported human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Denton County appeared in June 2012 and within three months the Denton County Health Department (DCHD) confirmed two human cases of WNV in Trophy Club (August 2012). Human WNV cases popped up in cities all over North Texas forcing many municipalities to make a challenging decision regarding aerial spraying for mosquitoes (Trophy Club opted in for aerial spraying). In 2012 Denton County reported 184 total human cases and two deaths caused by the disease.

In order to make a collective impact on WNV in 2013, the Collin County Health Care Services, Dallas County Health and Human Services, Denton County Health Department and Tarrant County Public Health joined in planning, researching and sharing information to unite the region in fighting against WNV. The teams work together to identify positive mosquitoes as an early indicator of WNV activity, which allows officials to eliminate mosquito breeding locations and therefore reduce the number of potential human cases. 

 “A major component of our unified approach will be the residents in each county,” said Dr. Bing Burton, Denton County’s Health Director. “We need their help in eliminating and reducing mosquito breeding areas in and around their homes.”

Prevention is Key

Although WNV infections are rare in humans, personal protection is very important, especially for those who are 50 and over. Residents should take the proper precautions to reduce the risk of getting the mosquito-borne WNV by remembering the
Four D's: drain, dress, DEET and dusk/dawn. Residents should:

  • Drain standing water around their homes to reduce mosquito hatching grounds.
  • Dress in pants and long sleeves when outside in mosquito-infested areas, but avoid becoming too hot.
  • Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) to exposed skin and to clothing when outdoors.
  • Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

Citizens should also make special efforts to reduce potential mosquito breeding areas within their yards and within their neighborhoods. Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property, for example, drain tires, cans, flowerpot saucers or anything else that holds water. Make sure gutters drain properly and clean gutters regularly. Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week. Use BTI briquettes, or larvicide briquettes, in standing water. BTI is a biological control agent that is very specific for killing mosquito larvae (available at home improvement and hardware stores).

What is the Town of Trophy Club Doing to Help?

On April 15, 2013 the town began giving away two free mosquito larvicide briquettes to each household in Trophy Club. Larvicide briquettes help with source reduction, which means when placed in standing water pools, the briquettes kill mosquito larvae before they can hatch. Code Enforcement and the Parks Department are working together to treat known water pools in town, but staff also relies on the residents to make sure potential breeding sites, especially located on private property, are removed or treated.

Residents can also report any stagnant standing pool of water that may be a potential mosquito breeding ground to code enforcement at 682-831-4659.

Ground spraying is not the first option because it is generally ineffective (the spray must make contact with the mosquito and will not reach mosquitoes in back yards or foliage) and not cost efficient.

Resources

More information is available on the Denton County Health Department West Nile Virus website.  For general questions about West Nile virus in humans please call the Denton County Health Department's West Nile Hotline at 940-349-2907. For general questions about West Nile virus in animals, please call the Texas Cooperative Extension at 940-349-2882.

If you believe you are experiencing any West Nile Virus symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, disorientation, and/or neck stiffness, immediately contact your doctor or health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, please contact your local emergency room or urgent care center.