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Mosquitos Trapped Near Home of West Nile Virus Victim Test Negative
Posted Date: 7/31/2013

A trap set out by the Richardson Health Department to monitor mosquito populations around the home of a Richardson resident diagnosed with a mild form of the West Nile virus contained mosquitos that tested negative for the virus. The weekly traps from normal monitoring locations have been collected and results are pending. Further ground sprayings may be scheduled for this weekend depending on those results.

“With our enhanced surveillance program, we are able to quickly detect whether the West Nile virus is present in localized mosquito populations and respond to help limit the spread of the disease,” said Richardson Health Department Director Bill Alsup. “Fortunately in this case, we did not find mosquitos with the virus. Because of the nature of the disease, it can take several weeks for symptoms to appear once someone is infected, so it’s very hard to determine exactly when and where someone may have contracted the virus.”

Richardson began its West Nile virus monitoring program in April, which is the earliest it has ever begun testing for signs of the virus. The Richardson City Council approved increased surveillance this year due to the heightened incidence of West Nile virus cases experienced in the Metroplex in 2012.

In an effort to decrease the incidents of finding the West Nile virus in people and mosquito traps, targeted neighborhoods are being sprayed twice as part of a comprehensive plan implemented in early 2013. This year the City’s Health Department also enacted its own contract with a private laboratory that can report results on tests within 24 hours.

For more information on Richardson’s mosquito abatement program please visit cor.net/mosquito.

Increased Surveillance
Richardson is working in conjunction with other cities and health agencies in the Metroplex to mitigate the spread of West Nile virus. Additional measures being taken in Richardson include:

  • Earlier monitoring of mosquito populations using traps strategically placed in the city;
  • Residential pool abatement, to reduce areas where mosquitoes can breed;
  • Surveillance and treatment of storm drain system;
  • Closer collaboration among departments to reduce areas where water can become stagnant;
  • Deploying fish that can eat mosquito larvae, and increasing the areas where larvicide is used;
  • Improving the adulticide response by working with a private contractor that can provide additional ground spraying capacity;
  • Collaborating more closely with regional partners to provide an improved response.

How Spraying Locations Are Chosen
The Richardson Health Department schedules mosquito spraying based on positive findings of West Nile virus in mosquito traps placed around the city. Once located, the area around the positive finding is targeted for spraying in an attempt to help limit the spread of the disease. In an effort to decrease the incidents of finding the West Nile virus in people and mosquito traps, targeted neighborhoods are being sprayed twice as part of a comprehensive plan implemented in early 2013 to help deter the spread of the disease. However, spraying is only a measure to help limit exposure, and health workers urge people to maintain vigilance in protecting themselves when going outside.

When Spraying Occurs
Richardson schedules spraying events during overnight hours to limit exposure to people who may wish to avoid contact with the pesticide used to control mosquito populations. Spraying events may begin as early as 9 p.m. depending on the size of the spray area, and will end by 4 a.m. In order to minimize human exposure, the Health Department typically does not schedule spraying events on Friday or Saturday; however, an increase in findings of West Nile virus may cause the Richardson Health Department to spray on weekends as needed.

Spraying Is One Part Of The Protection Plan
Spraying to control the population of mosquitoes and the spread of the West Nile virus is a last resort, and is part of a comprehensive plan the Richardson Health Department follows to control the mosquito population. Other activities include: continuous monitoring of mosquito test pool results, implementation of a residential pool abatement program to reduce areas where mosquitoes can breed, surveillance and treatment of storm drains, use of larvicide and mosquito eating fish along creeks and other stagnant bodies of water to prevent mosquito eggs from developing into adults, monitoring and notification in neighborhoods where potential mosquito breeding areas are discovered, closer collaboration with regional health departments, and public education efforts through mass communications channels.

(Map of Richardson mosquito testing sites.)
(Map of Richardson mosquito testing sites.)

How To Protect Yourself
To protect from mosquito bites, people are asked 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.

More On The West Nile Virus
The West Nile virus is transmitted 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.