Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Fight the Bite: How to Help Prevent West Nile Virus

Summer is peak mosquito season. Bug bites can be a pain, but even more concerning is the potential for contracting a serious virus spread by infected mosquitoes, like West Nile Virus.

It’s important to both recognize the symptoms of the virus and know what to do to protect yourself and your yard.

Know the symptoms

According to Tarrant County Public Health, up to 80 percent of people infected with West Nile Virus do not develop symptoms. The roughly 20 percent of infected people who develop symptoms may suffer from a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile Virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Less than one percent of infected people develop severe symptoms of a headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis as the result of inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues. If you suspect you have contracted West Nile Virus, contact your health care provider.

The good news is that positive tests for Tarrant County have been fairly low this year. So far this season, Tarrant County has only had 31 positive mosquito samples for the season, or April through July, compared to the 2017 season with 48 positive samples. You can help keep the numbers low this year by taking precautions.

Protect yourself

The Office of Emergency Management has an effective Vector Control, mosquito testing, program in place. The weekly tests monitor and reduce the risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases. If there is a positive West Nile test in Southlake, the City uses effective methods to control the threat by using EPA-approved pesticides on public property.

There are steps that you can take to protect your own property from mosquitos.

Make your yard an undesirable environment for mosquitoes. Since mosquitoes need water to breed, dispose of any standing water on your property. If water cannot be dumped or drained, use a larvicide to kill immature mosquitoes before they become adults. Larvicides, which are typically sold as tablets or granules, are applied directly to water sources that hold mosquito eggs or larvae and can help to reduce the mosquito population by limiting the number of new mosquitoes that are produced.

If adult mosquitoes are airborne on your property, liquid adulticides can be dispensed as fine aerosol droplets from hand-held sprayers. Adulticides stay aloft and kill flying mosquitoes on contact, immediately impacting the number of adult mosquitoes in an area.

In addition to reducing the mosquito population in your surroundings, wear long sleeves and pants to limit mosquito bites or use DEET-based insect repellents when outdoors.

For additional educational information about mosquitoes or to learn more about the City’s response to mosquitoes, visit the Office of Emergency Management’s webpage or call them at 817-748-8903.

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