Christine Lee, Irving/Grand Prairie Reporter
The city of Irving has expanded its mosquito control program, which now includes an in-house lab to test for West Nile virus.
The city of Irving is getting a head start on mosquito season.
Since the beginning of the year, city workers have been planning how to be more effective when it comes to preventing a West Nile virus outbreak like last year's.
The city of Irving has dedicated a bungalow to create more space for vector control technicians. It includes office space, a classroom for educating residents and a lab to test mosquito samples for West Nile virus more quickly.
The testing process, which took weeks in the past, can now be done in less than a day, said Walter Ritchie, the city's athletes, aquatics, and vector control manager.
"It takes about anywhere between an hour and a half to three hours to get the results," Ritchie said. "The results are then downloaded into the computer. The computer then tells us the percentage and whether the West Nile is present in the sample."
William Miller, whose wife died in August after contracting West Nile virus, said he is happy to hear of the city's push to be more proactive but is sad it came too late for his family.
"I wish they had done it a couple of years ago," he said. "It might have helped my wife, you see, but progress doesn't work that way, does it? It takes time and ages."
Miller and his wife were together for 76 years.
"October 15th was our anniversary, and I'm used to having somebody around. You watch TV and say, 'Gee did you see that?' and there is nobody there to tell about it," he said.
Miller also contracted West Nile virus. His symptoms lasted for months, he said.
"You didn't sleep much, you didn't eat, and I lost about 40 pounds, which I needed to lose anyway," he said. "If I could lose 40 more, it'd be good."