City leaders are preparing to spray for mosquitoes in a southwest Denton neighborhood after a resident contracted the Zika virus while traveling abroad.
The Denton County Health Department alerted the city about the case late Friday.
City spokesperson Lindsey Baker said in a press release Saturday that the patient recently traveled to Puerto Rico and may have contracted the virus there.
As a result, City Environmental Services Director Dr. Kenneth Banks has contacted a company to spray for mosquitoes in the area around the 1600 block of Buena Vista Drive.
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Unlike West Nile virus spraying events, which have trucks fogging the neighborhood from the streets, Zika spraying requires an up-close approach.
Banks said the particular mosquitoes that carry Zika breed close to homes and don’t fly far from that area. In order to spray for the bugs, crews actually have to enter private property and spray using handheld systems.
Saturday morning, firefighters from Denton Station 6 went door-to-door in the affected area and began asking permission from residents to spray on their properties.
“We’ve met with about 60 percent,” said Banks. “So far we have not had a refusal.”
The firefighters left information sheets and notifications on the doors of the homes where there wasn’t an answer, and Banks said they would circle back with those folks to ask their permission.
If they are able to get all of the proper permissions and if the weather continues to cooperate, Banks hopes they will be able to conduct the spraying early next week, hopefully starting mid-morning on Monday. The mosquito that carries Zika is present during the daylight hours and requires the spraying during that time, said Banks.
City leaders do stress that the spraying is a precautionary move and that there has been no local transmission of the virus by mosquitoes; something they hope to avoid with this action.
- Dress in long sleeves, pants when outside: For extra protection, spray thin clothing with repellent.
- DEET: Make sure this ingredient is in your insect repellent.
- Drain standing water in your yard and neighborhood: Mosquitoes can develop in any water stagnant for more than three days.
It has been recommended in the past that to avoid mosquito bites you should avoid being outdoors during Dusk and Dawn (the 4 Ds). While this is true for mosquitoes that commonly carry the West Nile virus, other types of mosquitoes that are more likely to carry Zika, dengue and chikungunya are active during the day. When outdoors, no matter what time of day, adjust your dress accordingly and wear insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus as your first line of defense against insect bites.