Get ready for West Nile season

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Denton County Health Department officials announced recently that they are again partnering with health officials from Collin, Dallas and Tarrant counties to coordinate efforts to make an impact on the upcoming West Nile virus season.

The announcement is a timely reminder to area residents that it’s time once again to become vigilant about finding and eliminating mosquito breeding locations.

We realize there may still be a slight chill in the morning air, but native Texans know that the mosquitoes will soon be out in force. All it takes is minimal heat from the sun and a little standing water.

Thanks to recent rainfall — with more predicted for today — the liquid part of the recipe is in place.

Officials also announced a change that could give us a more realistic view of the impact of West Nile virus. Starting this year, cases can be reported even if the patient has no fever. Previously, a fever had to be present for a case to be reported.

Denton County Health Director Bing Burton said the change was likely influenced by public health practitioners across the state.

“All of us in public health recognize there was probably a disconnect in the reporting last year,” Burton said. “We would observe someone, we would look at the lab work and see every indication of West Nile, talk with the family about symptoms and there again see every symptom, but because there was no fever, officially we had no case.”

He said his office had knowledge of some cases last year that were most likely West Nile but did not get classified as such.

“With this year’s change, we anticipate there may be a few more cases,” he said.

Burton said the county will likely see the same number of illnesses but will be able to more accurately classify them. He added that the increased numbers from the more accurate count may also cause the county to take spraying measures for mosquitoes.

In addition to draining all areas of standing water in and around their homes — one of the four “Ds” to help prevent West Nile — residents should also remember to:

Dress to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long, loose and light-colored clothing when outside;

Defend themselves by using insect repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and

Avoid outside activities from dusk to dawn if at all possible.

County residents can find more information on West Nile virus and protecting their families by visiting www.dentoncounty.com/wnv. It’s never too early to be prepared.

We appreciate the heads-up from health officials, and we urge readers to be proactive about helping control mosquitoes and reduce West Nile cases.

If we all practice a little prevention, it could help a lot.


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