The Richardson Health Department has announced plans to extend mosquito control spraying areas in the city based on positive mosquito pool results and a reported human case of the West Nile virus in a Richardson resident. The reported human case is from an area near US 75 and Belt Line Road.
"We spray several times a year across the city to help control the mosquito population when surveillance indicates the presence of an arbovirus,” said Richardson Health Department Director Bill Alsup. “We had planned to spray in the neighborhood around US 75 and Belt Line Road later this week, but we’re also expanding our efforts to other parts of the community where the virus has been found in mosquito traps.”
Richardson is not alone in the noticed increase in mosquito populations and findings of West Nile in mosquitoes. Environmental conditions from last summer's drought, a mild winter and abundant spring rains have resulted in an increased population.
With increased mosquito populations comes an increased risk to being bitten by mosquitoes. To protect from bites, people are urged to follow the Four D’s of protection:
- DRAIN standing water around the home,
- Use insect repellent containing DEET,
- Avoid being outdoors at DUSK and DAWN when mosquitoes are most active,
- And DRESS to protect yourself with long sleeves and pants to reduce skin exposure.
“These are some easy ways people can protect themselves and their loved ones,” Alsup said. “The odds are already very unlikely that you will contract West Nile virus from a mosquito bite, but following these steps can help reduce odds even further and provide maximum protection for people who must be outside or who would like to enjoy an early morning jog or evening stroll.”
Richardson plans to spray the southwest portion of the city as soon as weather allows. The spray area spans from Melrose Drive south to Spring Valley Road and from Coit Road east to Central Expressway. This will be the first spraying event to occur this year in Richardson. All areas of the city will be continuously monitored throughout the rest of the mosquito season, and further sprayings will be scheduled based on mosquito surveillance used to monitor the spread of the West Nile virus.
More on the West Nile Virus
The West Nile virus is caused by a bite from an infected mosquito that's already carrying the virus, but not all mosquitoes are capable of carrying or transmitting the disease. In North Texas, the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito is greatest from July to October. Not everyone who gets bitten by an infected mosquito will get the virus, and it's rare for people to become very sick if they do develop symptoms from the disease.
Symptoms of West Nile virus vary depending upon the person who becomes infected. People who do develop symptoms usually suffer from mild "flu-like" illness. Rarely, symptoms may require medical care or hospitalization. The people who are most susceptible to the disease are the very young, the very old and those with weakened immune systems.