West Nile wanes in Dallas this summer but we're not out of the woods
There's been no shortage of mosquitoes this summer, but thankfully, the West Nile virus appears to be in decline. Halfway through the 2013 West Nile season, there hasn't been a single confirmed human infection in Dallas County.
Compare that to 2012, when the mosquito-born illness infected 398 people in Dallas County, and 20 died. Those numbers put the city on high alert, and aerial spraying efforts left many residents up in arms.
"Even though there hasn't been a death or human infection at this time, it's still important to use precautions," says Pamela Smith of the county's Health & Human Services department.
Pamela Smith with the county's Health & Human Services department warns residents not to let their guard down. The disease spreads from May to October. She emphasizes that the lack of human infection does not equate to a zero threat; there have been several confirmed cases of infected mosquitoes.
"Even though there hasn't been a death or human infection at this time, it's still important to use precautions," Smith says.
Recommended precautions include using bug spray, wearing long sleeves and pants when working in the yard, and staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
So far this year, there hasn't been any aerial spraying in Dallas County. Crystal Woods in the office of code compliance praises the effectiveness of ground spraying and trapping to control the mosquito population.
"We see our counts go down immediately after we ground spray," Woods says. "It's been quite effective."
Residents can keep up with the West Nile virus online through a regularly updated map that lists infected mosquito pools. The latest iteration showed seven infected areas, including Highland Park, Richardson, Balch Springs and Oak Cliff.
In response to recent positive tests for the virus, the city will spend the next few days ground spraying in the 3600 block of Mount Ranier, the 5300 block of Grovewood and in the area around 3425 Pondrom.
Residents of those areas are asked to stay indoors from 10 pm to 2 am in order to prevent exposure to the insecticide. "The spray breaks down quickly in the presence of sunlight and has no residual effect," the city said in a statement.