After record year, officials hope early prep slows West Nile virus



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Posted on April 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

DALLAS -- Almost a month early, a shipment of mosquito repellent was being unloaded outside the Dallas County Health Department Thursday, but the 2,000 cans of OFF are already spoken for.

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said they will be handed out at a local senior citizens center. They are also another indication that West Nile virus is back, and earlier than before.

“Right now, the fact that you are finding positive mosquito pools this early is an indicator that West Nile virus and human cases are just around the corner,” Thompson said.

Last year, a record 940 cases of West Nile virus were reported in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties. Thirty-five people died and the outbreak was so serious Dallas County approved aerial spraying for the first time since the 1960’s.

Sunday, ground spraying will begin in Richardson, where mosquitoes trapped in three different locations tested positive for West Nile. The hope is to kill off as many virus-carrying mosquitoes as possible, possibly avoiding aerial spraying later, and preventing people from getting sick.

Richardson resident Kelly Thomas said with the cold weather, most people are not thinking about mosquitoes at all. She’s glad spraying is beginning early.

“I’m pleased that they are going ahead and being proactive about the West Nile virus, so that we wouldn’t be having so much fear,” she said.

Some of that fear won’t subside until officials know if early spraying helped curb the virus’ spread.