Zika and West Nile Top Concerns This Mosquito Season

Mosquito season is underway and Dallas County Health and Human Services is reminding residents to take precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile and Zika viruses.

"With recent and upcoming rains, as well as potential travel plans, we are reminding residents to use personal protection to avoid exposure to mosquitoes," said DCHHS director Zachary Thompson.

On Wednesday, the Dallas Bar Association held a public forum on mosquito-borne illnesses.

Among the panel were Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dr. John Carlo, former Dallas County HHS Health Authority and Sean Lemoine, a West Nile virus survivor.

"You're paralyzed. It's like you're on fire and you can't put yourself, but you're stuck there dealing with it," said Lemoine, as he described his battle with West Nile virus in 2009.

"It's important to get out and talk about it and remind people that this is real," said Lemoine.

The new threat this mosquito season is the Zika virus and the breeds of mosquitoes that carry the viruses are in Dallas County.

"We've got a lot of mosquitoes here, and there is always a risk when you have mosquitoes in your environment of mosquito-borne diseases," said Dr. Carlo.

"The Zika mosquito, a daytime biter, likes to bite inside your house and will follow you around. It likes to find an opening. It's an indoor-type of mosquito," Carlo added.

West Nile mosquitoes, on the other hand, like to feed on birds, Carlo said.

"It will also feed on your pets and also catch you at dawn or dusk at night," he said.

"As long as you can eliminate standing water, you're really doing the right thing to protect yourself," Carlo added.

Right now, Jenkins is looking to bring on a new tool to fight the aedes egypti mosquito, or the "Zika" mosquito.

He is exploring the option of making Dallas a test site for a British company that releases genetically modified mosquitoes, unable to produce offspring that survive past adulthood.

He told NBC 5 tests still need to be done to make sure it's the right route for Dallas County.

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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