The Colony cracks down on West Nile virus myths




Posted on July 11, 2012 at 10:40 PM

THE COLONY - As the number of North Texas cases of West Nile virus rise, so does the anxiety about mosquitoes. But the experts say there are a lot of myths and misinformation.

In The Colony Wednesday night, concerned citizens came out to get some answers.

Ironically, on the same evening homeowners came to learn more about West Nile, mosquitoes in two traps tested positive for the virus. They were found in an area near The Colony Aquatic Center.

The Colony traps and tests mosquitoes, puts out larvicide and will soon spray to kill them.

So, true or false?

If your city has a mosquito control program, you don't have to worry about using repellents.

That’s fiction. Backyards are an even bigger problem.

"Just think of all the containers, buckets, wheelbarrows, boats, green pools and spas that are in your neighborhood,” said entomologist Patrick Prather. “You need to let code enforcement know about those things. Those are health hazards."

And that brings us to our next question: Can North Texans really reduce their own chances of contracting West Nile?

"You're going to have mosquitoes there, whether you want them or not," said William Johnson, a homeowner.

That’s a fact. But it’s also true that you can take steps to lower the odds you'll get bit by a West Nile mosquito. Make a habit of using insect repellent when outdoors. And again, get rid of any standing water.

"Residents in their own yards can have more effect than any city program can," Prather said.

And there's confusion about who's at the highest risk of getting West Nile.

Most people seem to think it’s kids. But that's false.

"Actually, older, more mature adults are more at risk than the youngsters,” said the entomologist. “Most young children have a healthier immune system than people over 50, 60 or 70."

The Colony held a meeting to clear up some of the misinformation about West Nile. Parks officials realized it was badly needed after some of the calls they were taking.

"A lot of times, they'll call in, and say, ‘We hear the virus is around, are we going to die?'" said Jerry Young, who works with The Colony Parks and Recreation, which sponsored the informational meeting.