The first round of mosquito testing at Denton's local laboratory yielded no positive hits for West Nile virus.
City Environmental Services Director Ken Banks said they began placing mosquito traps just over a week ago to start collecting early season data on the virus. Of the eight traps set out, only two caught enough bugs to test; neither test showed any sign of the virus.
"We expect maybe a slow season to West Nile virus showing up," said Dr. Jim Kennedy, who heads Denton's West Nile virus testing lab.
Kennedy said it may be June or July before the illness really shows up in the city due mainly to the unusually cold start to the year.
Denton works with the University of North Texas to test locally for West Nile virus. The lab provides the city with quicker data than the state lab and can start testing earlier.
Kennedy said they use a different method of testing, called RAMP, which only takes a few hours to complete instead of the days it takes for a state PCR test. However, the state testing does yield more accurate results that they rely on for official confirmation of tests.
"We have to be careful, like, if I get a 40 [on the test scale] we definitely have to wait to see what the PCR results are," said Erin Lamere, a UNT student who helps run the mosquito tests.
RAMP testing requires at least 10 female mosquitoes to be crushed into a single sample and tested by a machine for the presence of West Nile virus.
"I pick out all of the females because they've had a blood meal," said Lamere, sifting through the remainder of one of the two samples that came up negative in week one.
The city, much like Denton County and the rest of the Metroplex, are also now collecting samples for the state PCR testing, which began on May 1.
"Hopefully as we go through the summer and temperatures get warmer, we'll have higher numbers," said Bethany Hambrick, a UNT graduate student in charge of setting Denton's mosquito traps.
Hambrick said so far the eight locations she is testing are mostly near wooded areas or close to large elderly populations, who tend to be more susceptible to the illness.
"We'll come out the next morning, collect the trap and then process the mosquitoes in the lab," she said.
Banks said they are prepared to trap more sites if positive hits or large populations of mosquitoes start showing up.
Kennedy said they will continue testing and trapping about once a week until the season is over, which is generally after the first frost of the year.