Dallas County Health and Human Services says they're starting the war on West Nile early to prevent this year's season from having the deadly effects of years prior.
"Typically, West Nile Virus season begins in May, but early preparations will be beneficial with prevention," said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director. "Citizens can assist our efforts by being proactive at their homes and in their neighborhoods."
The county said they will begin deploying workers with mosquito traps as early as April 1 to collect, test, and identify mosquitoes in areas around Dallas County. The DCHHS said areas that test positive will be sprayed within 48 hours.
During the worst season in 2012, 20 people died and nearly 400 human cases were reported. Last year's numbers decreased to only 2 deaths and 16 reported human cases -- figures that DCHHS attributes to better preparation.
The county recommends following "The 4 D's"
- DEET: Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- DRESS: Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing outside especially during dusk and dawn hours.
- DRAIN: Remove all areas of standing water. Change water in wading pools, pet dishes and birdbaths several times a week.
- DUSK & DAWN: Stay indoors during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Though the numbers were lower last year, health services officials want residents to start taking precautions early.
"West Nile season is often unpredictable due to several variables including mosquito activity and weather, so it's essential that citizens continue to utilize the 4D's," said Dr. Perkins. "In 2013 we saw a significant drop in cases due to citizen awareness and practice."
"The fight against West Nile continues to be a joint effort," Dr. Perkins added. "Everyone plays a role in making sure their homes and our communities are safe."