North Texas

Experts Expect Active Summer for West Nile Virus

North Texas may be facing a busy summer dealing with the West Nile virus, according to some experts.

Dr. James Kennedy, with the University of North Texas, just started his annual mosquito surveillance for the city of Denton and said, after just a few weeks of trapping and testing, conditions are looking very similar to 2012 when North Texas saw a lot of cases of the illness.

"This winter's been very mild, very warm spring. Right now the temperatures are getting much warmer than what we would expect in May," said Kennedy.

So far, his weekly mosquito traps have netted the bugs in big numbers, too. He said few have been of the breed that carry West Nile, but that's to be expected right now with the storm season keeping area waters from getting stagnant.

"That's going to go away and we're going to have wet conditions, and I think we're going to have a bumper crop of mosquitoes," he said.

Several North Texas communities, including nearby Lewisville, have already launched spray trucks this season after getting positive West Nile tests in their traps.

Kennedy urges people not to be scared by the outlook, but to definitely take mosquito season seriously and follow the CDC's recommendations to prevent getting bitten.

Like many biologists in the area, Kennedy also said his concern is much more focused on West Nile than the Zika virus.

"We're going to see it [Zika] in the human population before we see it in the mosquito population," he said.

How to Protect Yourself From Mosquito Bites
  • 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.

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