COPPER CANYON — Town officials worry there may be mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus in town, but limited resources are forcing them to request outside help, which has yet to arrive.
Copper Canyon lies within two ZIP codes that have a total of 15 positive West Nile human cases as of Wednesday afternoon.
But so far, Copper Canyon residents have avoided contracting the virus.
However, council members said they believe residents could be at risk. Most of the positive cases occurred about three miles away in Flower Mound, which has 11 documented cases.
Copper Canyon officials sought help from Flower Mound for testing services, but they were told that Flower Mound officials were too backlogged to assist.
“Our problem is that we don’t know if we have a problem because we can’t test to see if our mosquitoes are positive,” Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml said. “And so far, we haven’t found anyone to help us test for it.”
The testing procedure can be difficult and time consuming, Tejml said.
The procedure requires setting a trap for the mosquitoes, which can take a couple of days to prepare, and then separating the female mosquitoes, which carry the virus, from the trap.
The whole process can take seven to 10 days, she said.
“It’s not easy, so you just can’t appoint someone to do it for you. They have to be trained and you have to have the equipment,” she said.
During a council meeting Monday, Tejml said the council tried to decide on how to approach their concerns but each suggestion created new concerns.
The council postponed the idea of spraying for mosquitoes because the insects could build a tolerance to the insecticide. Tejml said the council doesn’t want to spray if the mosquitoes aren’t carriers.
Officials are also hesitant to spray because many houses are built away from the roads in town.
“If we try to spray, there’s a chance the spray won’t even make it to the homes,” Tejml said. “And if it does make it past the trees and shrubbery, it’s probably too diluted to do anything to the mosquitoes.”
Tejml said she encourages residents to limit outdoor activity after dark and remove standing water regularly.
She said she also encourages the use of Mosquito Dunks, which are tablets placed in standing water like ponds or pools.
The dunks contain bacteria that kill the insect in its infant stage.
“Attacking the larval habitat is a very effective method of mosquito control,” said James Kennedy, a University of North Texas biology professor.
He said spraying can knock down a mosquito population, but unless the mosquito larvae are eliminated, it only takes a few days for repopulation.
“The factors that influence mosquito populations and West Nile virus are complex. Eliminating larval habitats and larval populations is always an important part of mosquito control,” he said.
Denton County has 78 reported cases of West Nile virus as of Wednesday, according to county health officials.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is email@example.com .