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DALLAS -- The Dallas County mosquito control lab processes hundreds of traps set each week.

Every day, workers separate and search specifically for the brown Culex house mosquito, which can carry West Nile virus.

Now, they're actively looking for another species that's black with stripes.

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can carry the chikungunya virus, which can cause disabling flu-like symptoms in people. Severe joint point is a hallmark of the 'Chik-V' infection.

'We do see it,' said Dallas County Health and Human Services Environmental Health Assistant Director Tony Jenkins of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, 'but it's not in high quantities.'

Jenkins said the county is stepping up surveillance for the mosquito after one tested positive for chikungunya in Harris County, southeast of Dallas on the Texas coast.

'What we're going to do is beef up our trapping, and all of the species that are noted for carrying chikungunya - we're going to send those to the lab and we're going to test those,' Jenkins said.

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes will be sent to Austin for testing. Jenkins said the county will also begin an active search to set more traps in areas where they find the most Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.

Tarrant County officials, on the other hand, say they have made no changes in their surveillance, for now.

Spokesperson Kelly Hanes said Tarrant County will step up surveillance in the area around any chikungunya-positive patient. So far, no one in Tarrant County has tested positive for the disease.

One person in Dallas County has tested positive. That person, according to Dallas County health officials, had recently traveled to the Caribbean, where chikungunya is prevalent.

As always, health authorities urge residents to take protections against mosquito bites by practicing the 4 D's:

  • Wear insect repellent with DEET
  • Dress in long, loose, and light-colored clothing
  • Drain standing water
  • Limit outdoor activity during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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