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Mosquitos With West Nile Virus Make An Early Appearance In North Texas

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Mosquitoes with West Nile Virus have arrived earlier than ever before in North Texas. Last week, several traps in Richardson had mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus – last year West Nile didn’t appear until May. 

In 2012 there were nearly 400 cases of human West Nile virus in Dallas County – and nineteen people died of the mosquito-borne illness. This year, officials got a jump start on West Nile prevention, because of early surveillance. Zachary Thompson, director of the county Health and Human Services Department, says this Richardson, like other municipalities, has been testing mosquito traps earlier and more frequently.

“This is the first positive traps that we’ve seen in Dallas County, now we’ve been trapping all month, so the majority of the mosquitoes we’ve tracked have been negative. So just in that area where we found the positive pool, we’re going to focus on that to look at what conditions contributed to that situation," Thompson says.

There will betargeted ground spraying in Richardson – but the early action isn’t necessarily an indication this season will be worse than last, according to Thompson.

“What’s going to be a tell-tale sign is if two weeks from now or the middle of May we’re starting to see large number of positive mosquito pools that’s going to be a big indicator on what this season is going to look like,” he says.

For now, Thompson says Dallas Country residents need to be cautious – using insect repellant outdoors and wearing long sleeves and pants when outside at dusk or dawn.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.