Just a few days after Denton County officials announced plans to get in front of the West Nile virus this season and outlined pre-emptive steps to help bolster response to any positive reports, tests in Lewisville and Flower Mound found infected mosquitoes.
Officials in both cities alerted the county about the results and their plans to conduct ground spraying.
Denton County Health Director Bing Burton said he was surprised to see mosquitoes testing positive for the virus this early in the season.
“I don’t know what that suggests for the upcoming West Nile season,” he said.
Neither do we, but the early report of positive test results is certainly cause for concern.
Last year, Denton County had a total of 184 human cases of West Nile virus, including 129 cases of West Nile fever and 55 cases of the more serious neuroinvasive form of the disease. That total was the highest number of West Nile cases per capita among Texas counties with populations larger than 50,000, officials said.
No one wants a repeat of last year’s West Nile season, which is why it’s understandable that two of Denton’s neighbors are already planning to conduct ground spraying. Officials simply want to counter the threat before it can get out of hand.
We realize that many area residents disagree with that strategy — fearing that the spray used against the mosquitoes will do more harm than good.
To those who line up in that camp, we would suggest a quick review of the pre-emptive steps that Burton and other officials offered before the first positive reports of West Nile were submitted.
If residents take a proactive approach to the problem by acting now to prevent a West Nile outbreak, perhaps we all can have what we want — a warm-weather season with no West Nile danger and no unsavory spraying.
Prevention is one of the priorities this West Nile season, Burton said. The health department is emphasizing education, which includes reminding people to: drain standing water to keep mosquitoes from breeding; dress appropriately around high-risk areas; stay inside during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active; and use repellents containing DEET.
You can find those and other prevention tips at www.dentoncounty.com/WNV. We recommend that all county residents become familiar with the county’s West Nile page — as Burton said, prevention can be a powerful weapon against the virus, and improving our education about the problem and how to prevent it is the best place to start.
The county health department is also working to improve information sharing and coordination with area cities, trying to keep the county website updated and continuing its effort to trap mosquitoes to test for the virus in unincorporated areas, Burton said.
Burton encouraged residents to continue to be vigilant against mosquitoes.
“We’re depending on individuals in Denton County to protect themselves, and we will continue to do what we can to assist in that protection,” he said.
No one likes to think about spraying for mosquitoes, but neither do we want to suffer with West Nile, and doing nothing will only increase the risk.
We encourage all Denton County residents to get an early start with prevention — even if you haven’t seen a mosquito.
Do your homework by checking out the county’s West Nile page, and join the effort to help “fight the bite.”