West Nile virus detected in Galveston Co. mosquitoes

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston County health officials are warning residents to take action against mosquitos after the first West Nile Virus mosquito sample was confirmed this year.

The sample was collected in the northwest area of the county, according to the Galveston County Health District.

"We've had a lot of rain in the past few weeks and that, coupled with the warmer weather, is resulting in an increase in mosquitoes," said Randy Valcin, GCHD director of public health surveillance programs. "Mosquitoes can carry West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya and other diseases. The good news is there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family."

West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-born illness in the U.S., according to GCHD. In addition to mosquitoes, West Nile virus can infect humans, birds, horses and some other animals.

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Health officials offered some tips to prevent mosquito breeding and protect against mosquito bites.

Residents should empty or remove standing water from items such as gutters, trash cans, buckets, pool covers, flowerpots, children's toys and more at least once a week. GCHD says you should also change the water in your pet's bowls daily.

"It doesn't take much water - it can be just a tablespoon - for mosquitoes to breed," Valcin said. "If you have to store water, be sure to tightly cover the container so that mosquitoes can't get inside."

To prevent bites, health officials suggest using an EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors and closing doors and windows or using screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

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