The West Nile Virus Is Back In Harris County

It’s that time of year again when we’re told to take precautions to prevent being bit with mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. But this year is a bit different. Rudy Bueno with Harris County Mosquito Control says the drought has actually increased the number of infected mosquitoes.

"One of the main reasons is because there’s fewer water sources. So what happens, you’ve got more birds congregating at those sources, as well as mosquitoes, so there’s greater interaction between infected birds and mosquitoes."

The West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes that bite infected birds. Humans who are bitten most often will not show symptoms, but those most likely to are people 50 and over or those with weak immune systems.

Bueno says his workers have been trapping and testing mosquitoes for the past three weeks.

"We test about anywhere between 400 and 450 samples a week. For the previous 2 or 3 weeks, we’ve probably been getting ninety to a hundred positive samples."

He calls the situation pretty serious. Nothing to panic about, but it certainly requires action. That’s why the country will begin aerial spraying tomorrow night in the northern and central parts of Harris County.

He says the pesticides are effective. I asked him, how does he know if they’re killing all the infected mosquitoes?

"I don’t know. I can’t say how much we miss. I know how much we get as far as...because we do conduct surveillance every week, so we’re able to see the counts. When we spray, it’s effective, but then there’s a lot of mosquitoes out there too."

Bueno says the public can do its part by using mosquito repellent and covering up more of the body. Something that isn’t as easy when the temperature is near 100 degrees.

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