Richardson begins West Nile prevention efforts a month early

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by BAILEY MCGOWAN

WFAA

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 11 at 5:29 PM

They're back and earlier than before. 
 
The city of Richardson confirmed Thursday that mosquitoes with West Nile Virus had been detected. This is earliest Health Director Bill Alsup has ever seen them, he said. 
 
"We've been testing for West Nile since it arrived in 2002," Alsup said."We increased our surveillance since last year's outbreak and we identified earlier than I was expecting." 
 
Last year, the city recorded 14 human cases of West Nile. No one died from it.

Richardson straddles Dallas and Collin counties. Last year, Collin reported 76 human West Nile cases and four related deaths. 
 
Meanwhile, Dallas County had a reported 398 human cases of West Nile Virus with 19 deaths, said Pamela Smith, a spokeswoman for the county. This is the largest number of reported incidents of the virus since 2006, which had 104 cases in Dallas County.
 
Typically, Richardson does not begin monitoring for mosquitoes until May. Due to last year's numbers, health officials decided to increase their surveillance, Alsup said.
 
Mosquitoes were trapped in three different locations and sent to a lab to be tested for the disease. There, the lab confirmed the presence of the West Nile Virus. 
 
The lab also said the mosquitoes appeared to be older mosquitoes, which seemed to have survived the winter, Alsup said. 
 
"They probably lived in the back portion of a storm drain or some other harbored area," Alsup said. "They emerged when weather warmed up in earlier in the week. These were older mosquitoes that likely fed on a bird late last year."
 
In attempts to combat these early reports Richardson will use trucks to spray three locations on Sunday night from 9 p.m. to 4. a.m. on Sunday, April 14, and Monday, April 15. The neighborhoods sprayed are listed at the bottom of this story. 
 
Last year, the city didn't have to spray until June. 
 
The disease starts in birds and transferred to mosquitoes when they feed off of the birds, the mosquitoes preferred meal, Alsup said. The disease is then transferred to people when the mosquitoes can not find a bird to feed on and go for a quick, human meal instead. 
 
People do not tend to show symptoms until three to 14 days after the mosquito bite, according the the Dallas County Health and Human Services website. 
 
That's if a person shows symptoms at all. Eighty percent of people infected with the virus show no symptoms at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. 
 
In a statement, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins commended the city's decision:

“Richardson's proactive testing and early finding of positive West Nile Mosquitoes illustrates the importance of early testing and targeted spraying adopted by North Texas counties and cities in the wake of last year's West Nile Epidemic. I commend them on their vigilance. This should also serve as a reminder to everyone to exercise the Four Ds.”

 
People can follow the four D's to protect themselves:
  • Wear a repellent with deet
  • Drain any standing water
  • Dress in a manner that minimizes skin exposure. Long sleeves and pants when possible.
  • Avoid being out at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. 

Neighborhoods to be sprayed:

  • W. Campbell Rd. south to W. Arapaho Rd.; Coit Rd. east to Central Expressway (US75).
  • E. Lookout Dr. south to Apollo Rd.; Plano Rd. east to Jupiter Rd.
  • President George Bush Turnpike east to Breckinridge Park, and between the northern and southern borders of the city

The times are subject to change due to weather conditions of winds being over 10 mph or rain. 

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