Recent Rains Mean Start of Mosquito Season

North Texas cities have already detected West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes

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Mosquitoes are in North Texas and they're bringing disease with them.

North Texas cities have detected West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes.

Dallas and Tarrant counties have reported mosquito pools, as well as the city of Frisco. Health experts expect an increase in human infections.

"We can absolutely see an outbreak, an increasing number of cases especially when people are out and about as we are right now," said UNT Health Science Center's associate professor and epidemiologist Dr. Diana Cervantes.

West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States.

It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms that are similar to symptoms of COVID-19.

"That would include having a fever, body aches. You will see a rash sometimes but you won't see upper respiratory symptoms. You won't see a cough or anything like that," said Cervantes

About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

Other mosquito-borne diseases that have affected North Texas are Chikungunya and Zika.

The most common symptoms of Chikungunya infection are fever and joint pain.

In late 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean.

Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. When traveling to countries with chikungunya virus, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

Zika is a virus that spreads through the bite of certain types of mosquitoes.

If infected while pregnant, a mother can pass Zika to her unborn child.

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects and developmental delays. Zika virus can also be passed through sex and blood transfusions.

While it can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and red or pink eyes, about 80% of people with Zika do not have any symptoms.

Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika.

Your best protection is to avoid infection. Prevent mosquito breeding, protect yourself from mosquito bites, and practice safe sex.

Did you know that mosquitoes can breed in as little as a tablespoon of water?

Prevent mosquitoes from breeding on your property by taking these steps:

At least weekly, empty or remove trash cans, buckets, old tires, pots, plant saucers, and other containers that hold water.

Keep gutters clear of debris and standing water.

Remove standing water around structures and from flat roofs.

Change water in pet dishes daily.

Rinse and scrub vases and other indoor water containers weekly.

Change water in wading pools and bird baths several times a week.

Use mosquito dunks with larvicide for water that can't be emptied or covered.

Keep backyard pools and hot tubs properly chlorinated and free of debris.
Cover trash containers.

Water lawns and gardens carefully so water does not stand for several days.
Screen rain barrels and openings to water tanks or cisterns.

Treat front and back door areas of homes with residual insecticides if mosquitoes are abundant nearby.

If mosquito problems persist, consider pesticide applications for vegetation around the home.

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