The North Texas health departments of Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties are again coordinating their planning efforts to make a collective impact on this year’s West Nile virus season.
The 2012 West Nile virus season was unexpected and took a significant toll on the health of citizens of the North Texas region. Ground and aerial spraying were used in areas of the region to reduce the mosquito population potentially carrying the virus. In 2013, North Texas health departments enhanced collaborations to prevent a potential recurrence. Dallas and Tarrant counties began trapping and testing mosquitoes earlier than in 2012 and continued additional activities on a limited basis throughout the year. Both counties also requested additional funding from their respective Commissioners Courts to hire more staff members. As a result of the magnitude of the outbreak in
2012, Denton County Health Department began trapping and testing mosquitoes in the unincorporated areas in 2013. Collin County adjusted staffing to accommodate the changing situation.
In 2014, new “case definitions,” also known as reporting requirements, will change how human West Nile virus cases are counted. These changes may lead to an increase in the number of reported human cases.
“Knowing that people are crossing county boundaries daily makes it more important for us to be strategic in our actions,” commented Collin County Health Care Services Director Candy Blair.
“Just as in 2013, we will continue to focus on the emergence of positive mosquitoes as an early indicator of West Nile virus activity. By reducing the mosquito population we will hopefully reduce the number of human cases” said Tarrant County Public Health Director Dr. Lou Brewer.
“A major component of our unified approach will be the residents in each county,” said Denton County’s Health Director Dr. Bing Burton. “We need their help in eliminating and reducing mosquito breeding areas in and around their homes.”
“Increased vigilance by all of us will help identify and eliminate mosquito breeding locations throughout the area and also give us an edge in our collective battle against West Nile,” added Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson.
All four counties will echo the prevention messages, which if followed, can help reduce human cases by reducing exposure to mosquitoes. Citizens can defend themselves against mosquitoes that may potentially carry the virus by remembering and following “The Ds”:
- DRESS to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long, loose and light-colored clothing when outside;
- DEFEND yourself by using insect repellents approved by the EPA or CDC;
- DUSK to DAWN outside activities should be avoided when possible, and especially if one isn’t dressed and prepared with repellent; and
- DRAIN all areas of standing water in and around the home, including wading pools, pet dishes and birdbaths.
For more information on prevention of West Nile virus infection, please visit http://www.dentoncounty.com/wnv/