North Texas Daily

Health officials recommend West Nile protection

Health officials recommend West Nile protection

Health officials recommend West Nile protection
September 02
00:17 2014

Steven James / Staff Writer

The Denton County Health Department is now taking precautions after a group of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile Virus near Unicorn Lake in Denton two weeks ago and in Flower Mound last week.

Flower Mound will spray for mosquitoes Sept. 2 through 4 near the 2600 block of College Parkway, the area of town in which they discovered the infected mosquitoes, according to the town’s website.

The Denton County Health Department is currently capturing mosquitoes around the city and killing larvae before they mature. In Denton, West Nile is occasionally found in mosquito samples. There were nine human cases last year, but no deaths.

Denton County Health Department chief epidemiologist Juan Rodriguez said people should be cautious but not worry, because only one in 150 people develop severe symptoms of West Nile, and only an average 10 percent of that one in 150 die.

He also said West Nile usually takes time to develop after someone becomes infected and, people should go see their doctors if they show one or more of the symptoms, which include headaches, fever, nausea, aches and even comas and convulsions in more serious cases.

“Even if you survive, you can still live with the lingering symptoms,” he said.

Rodriguez said mosquitoes tend to breed in still bodies of water.

“People should often clean out their trash cans, ponds, bird feeders and other places where the water easily gets dirty,” he said.

Assistant director of outreach at the Student Health and Wellness Center Kerry Stanhope said students should avoid being outside at dusk and dawn if possible, because those are the times of day when mosquitoes are most common. He said students should wear long sleeves, pants and insect repellent with DEET, a common active ingredient in insect repellents.

Regents professor of biology James Kennedy has been working with his undergraduate and graduate students for the past 12 years to capture and test mosquitoes for West Nile virus to study patterns in Denton.

Kennedy and his team set up gravid traps in more than 10 parts of town. Gravid traps attract female mosquitoes of the genus Culex, which are known carriers of many diseases, including West Nile, When the mosquitoes fly toward the trap to lay their eggs, a current of air blows the mosquitoes into a paper bag, trapping them.

Once a week, he and his students will bring back the captured mosquitoes and test the level of West Nile in mosquitoes. After that, he sends the positively tested mosquitoes to the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. The first mosquitoes to test positive were from samples collected Aug. 18 near Unicorn Lake.

He said that even though Denton was hit hard with numerous West Nile cases two years ago, West Nile is not commonly seen in mosquitoes in Denton.

“We just haven’t had much West Nile activity in Denton, which is a good thing,” Kennedy said.

Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Staff Illustrator

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