Officials will begin trapping mosquitoes in the unincorporated areas of the county and having the samples tested to determine the West Nile presence and any steps that need to be taken.
“If there are positive results from our testing, then the county will need to consider and determine whether it wants to do ground spraying,” said Bing Burton, Denton County Health Department director.
Should that be the case, Burton said, he would likely have to ask the commissioners for funds for the spraying.
While Burton said he doesn’t expect this year’s season to equal the 182 Denton County cases reported in 2012, he wanted to be on top of things.
Burton said the health department budget can handle the costs since officials have previously acquired some traps, and existing staff members are being used to do the trapping.
“There will be some minor travel costs. We will send the specimens to the state, and they will process them for free, although there will be some shipping charges. We’re not talking about a lot of money,” he said.
Burton acknowledged that many cities do their own testing and spraying, and that the county plan will add to their efforts.
“I think it’s unlikely we would find very many positive mosquito areas. We had a large outbreak season last year, but we still didn’t have very many cases in the unincorporated areas, so I don’t expect a whole lot of positive cases.”
Burton said county officials will share data with any city officials that may want it and will work to post the information to the county web site.
In addition to the trapping, Burton said, the health department will continue to spread the word on preventative measures and work toward improving communication patterns with county municipalities.
County Commissioner Andy Eads commended the health department for being proactive this year. Last year, he said, many were surprised by the rate of West Nile virus that was experienced.
“I think aerial spraying should be a last resort this year, just as it was last year, and hopefully, by doing the trapping in unincorporated parts of the county and with the cities doing their trapping, we can keep a closer monitoring of the situation,” Eads said. “And we can focus more on prevention in 2013 than responding like we did in 2012.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .