Fight Against Zika Virus More Focused Than West Nile

The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning "it's only a matter of time" before mosquitoes in Texas begin transmitting the Zika virus.

Fighting them will take a different approach than the battle against West Nile virus, officials say.

"In the West Nile virus, we're doing truck spraying," said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services. "In Zika, just like your neighborhood exterminator, we're going to come to your home and actually look around and see if mosquitoes are around your property or in your house."

The mosquitoes that can carry Zika stay close to homes, so hand-held foggers, sprayers and backpacks used in the early evening make the best weapons.

"You want to be able to get into this backyard, inspect these areas and treat up close and personal, so you can take care of the mosquitoes to better protect these people," said Patrick Prather, of Municipal Mosquito, which assists many North Texas cities and counties in their fight against mosquitoes.

Small trucks can spray in alleys behind homes, targeting those closest to that of someone with a confirmed case of Zika.

"We're looking at one, two, three houses where it's a very focused treatment," said Prather. "West Nile is a game of yards. Zika is a game of inches."

Some backyards may remain off limits.

"I wouldn't want somebody coming on my property without my permission," said Prather. "But we do ask for consent, we go in and ask for their cooperation with doing those inspections and helping them abate the issues on their own property."

Travel related cases of Zika may not require spraying near the patient's home.

"Localized transmission is going to be what triggers the spraying," said Thompson. "With the actual imported cases, we can go out and do some trapping, but it may not constitute us doing any ground or spraying around that home."

Texas has confirmed 18 cases of Zika, all of them travel-related.

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