Public health leaders across Denton County are preparing for the possibility of more West Nile virus cases this summer.
As of February, the Denton County Health Department had already met with leaders once from communities county-wide to discuss how to better handle future situations.
"For counties with a substantial population, our attack rate was the highest in the state,” said Director Bing Burton.
Burton said the county plans to get a much earlier jump on the illness this year. That includes placing more traps in rural areas of the county as well as city areas to get a better idea of where any problems may start.
"Starting in about April or May, we'll do our first testing,” he said.
The City of Lewisville is following along closely where Health Services Director Sherry Harper admits the West Nile fight never really ended for them.
"We had 34 cases,” she said, “but no fatalities.”
Harper said communication will be key as they work closely with other governments as well as with the citizens to keep them educated on how to prevent problems.
"The way this is going to work is we have to get our citizens to be involved,” she said adding that they’d be posting signs, starting education efforts, and setting traps of their own very soon.
Last summer the situation with West Nile became so wide-spread that several areas, including in Denton County, decided to try aerial spraying for mosquitoes.
A new CDC report suggests that may have been successful. In the report, time spans before and after spraying in Denton County are compared with areas not sprayed and found that incidents decreased 2.5 times more in the sprayed areas.
They also state though that further studies will need to be conducted to see if any other factors may have had a significant effect on those results.
Back in Denton County, Burton is hopeful that all of the planning will be simply precautionary saying that the bird population may not be sufficient this year to cause serious numbers of cases.
“The mosquitoes have to bite an infected bird first,” he said describing the long road from the illness in animals to people. “You don't typically see large outbreaks in consecutive years."
However, officials said they will be prepared either way and encourage people all across North Texas to be vigilant by dumping out standing water and covering exposed skin at dusk and dawn.
Also, don’t forget the bug spray this summer.