Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus in NE Harris County

Mosquitoes are expected to be quite active until about mid-September
June 13, 2013 10:00:00 PM PDT
Harris County health officials are getting ready for an all-out assault on mosquitoes after the first case of the West Nile virus was found in the county. Experts say it's time for prevention.

They swarm and agitate with their blood sucking bite, but right along with summer, the mosquito season just ramped up a notch. Harris County now has its first confirmed sample of the optionally fatal West Nile virus.

"This is not abnormal," explained Dr. Rudy Bueno with Harris County Health and Environmental Services. "Normally we do find the first sample say between mid-May and early June."

The Harris County Health and Environmental Services has 268 mosquito traps throughout the county. On June 11 a mosquito tested positive from a trap in the Atascocita area near Lake Houston. Spraying by the county will begin at dusk.

"The primary carrier of West Nile virus is the southern house mosquito," Dr. Bueno said. "That mosquito's behavior is to fly at night time."

While four deaths were recorded in Houston last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 70 to 80 percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. Those symptoms can have a wide range, but feeling weakness or fatigue for weeks could be a sign to see a doctor. With the first confirmed sample, experts say now is the time for prevention.

Dr. Bueno said, "The use of repellant is extremely important, getting rid of any kind of artificial containers around the house. And they can be cans, bottles -- tires are really bad."

Experts also say box fans help keep mosquitoes off the back porch, and avoid wearing dark-colored clothing, which attracts mosquitoes.

HCPHES Mosquito Control encourages residents to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats from their property and to take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes.

    Mosquito-Proof Your Property

  • Don't "feed" the storm drains. Sweep up lawn clippings, leaves and tree limbs.
  • Remove/empty any containers that can hold water such as tires, flowerpots and toys.
  • Change water in birdbaths and pet water bowls every 3 to 5 days.
  • Keep rain gutters free of debris.
  • Make sure screens are in good condition.
  • Prevent Mosquito Breeding in Boats

  • Cover your boat and store it in a covered place.
  • Drain any standing water and make sure the bilge pump is working.
  • Invert canoes, kayaks and small boats to store.
  • Personal Protection

  • When outdoors, use an insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 and apply as directed on the label.
  • If possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk on because this is when the primary mosquito (Culex) that transmits West Nile virus is most active.

Most people who are infected with West Nile virus show no or only mild symptoms such as: low grade fever and headache. More severe signs and symptoms can include: high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, encephalitis, and rarely, death. If you think you have been infected with West Nile virus, contact your health care provider.

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