As the threat of COVID-19 improves in North Texas, April is the start of West Nile Virus season and there’s reason to be concerned about the mosquito carried illness, which is also a killer.
Friday’s rainy weather is just the sort of conditions that help disease-carrying mosquitoes breed.
Getting rid of standing water is one of the measures Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price wants to promote again as West Nile Virus season begins.
“It goes all the way until November and now that everybody wants to be out, take precautions,” Price said.
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John Wiley Price heads the Dallas County Public Health Advisory Committee which received details from the County Health Department Thursday on the 2020 West Nile Virus season.
Around the same time last year, parks were closed, streets were empty and people were not out as much because of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
So residents were less likely to come in contact with West Nile Virus, which was very much present in North Texas mosquitoes according to the test results.
The 485 positive West Nile Virus mosquito traps in 2020 in Dallas County were second only to 664 reported in 2016 since the year 2012 which was the most deadly West Nile Virus season for people in Dallas County.
In 2012, just 264 positive traps were reported, but the county did far less testing at that time before the potential severity of West Nile Virus was known.
Aerial spraying was done in North Texas in 2012 to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes. That year, 19 people died of West Nile Virus in Dallas County.
Price said most of the 2020 Texas West Nile Virus deaths that were reported occurred in Dallas and Tarrant Counties.
“And now we're getting into a season that could be a pretty dangerous season,” Price said.
So health officials are planning more West Nile Virus precaution advisories as they’ve posted in past years. The mosquito spraying trucks are ready again and new traps are set.
COVID-19 has been far more deadly than West Nile Virus, but the mosquito-born illness is a killer, too.
“With people getting vaccinated for COVID-19, they’re going to be out and about and what we’re saying is that you still need to be cognizant, that West Nile is present in this community,” Price said. “You’re talking about the six-foot distancing and mask and all, and by the way, do that, but at the same time, if you're going to be out, use that repellant.”
Long, loose clothing to avoid mosquito bites is another of the wise precautions as the mosquitoes prepare for another hot summer.
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