Wednesday, August 28, 2013
West Nile cases in Denton County down substantially from last year
Between May and August 2012, there were 143 human cases. This year, just one.
It was a year ago this week that many municipalities across North Texas, including Flower Mound, resorted to the aerial spraying of adulticide to combat the growing problem of West Nile virus.
A year later, aerial mosquito spraying in Denton County hasn't even been discussed, and the number of human cases of West Nile virus pales in comparison to last year's numbers.
According to the Denton County Health Department, there were 143 human cases of West Nile virus in Denton County from May 2012 to August 2012. During the same time period this year, there has been one.
In Flower Mound, there were 23 human cases in that timeframe. This year, the town hasn't had any human cases.
The West Nile virus is a potentially serious disease. The mild type (West Nile fever) has symptoms such as a fever, headache, and swollen nodes. The more severe form has symptoms ranging from a fever to a coma, paralysis, and tremors.
There were two deaths related to the West Nile virus in Denton County last year but none this year. People most at risk include people older than 50.
Denton County officials said it's hard to know for sure what the reasons are for the decline in human cases this year.
"We may never know," said Sarah McKinney of the Denton County Health Department. "There are so many factors that go into the West Nile virus. We're just grateful that we don't have what we had last year."
McKinney said one explanation may be a possible decrease in the bird population, or it may be weather related.
County and town officials agree, however, that education has likely been a factor.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the education campaign we had through the media and the municipal outlets," said Matt Woods, Flower Mound's director of environmental services. "People are limiting their exposure [to mosquitoes] and are using mosquito repellent. So I think getting the word out may have helped."
Other tips include eliminating standing water, wearing long sleeves when outside and staying inside during the dawn and dusk hours.
The number of positive mosquito samplings in Flower Mound is slightly down as well. There were 14 through August 2012, and there have been eight through August 2013. This comes despite the town setting out mosquito traps earlier and using more of them.
Despite the lower numbers, officials are encouraging residents to continue taking precautions for the next several weeks.
Last year's statistics point to August as being the most active month in terms of human cases in Denton County with 102 before falling down to 29 in September and 10 in October.
Woods said the mosquito season starts to trickle down by early- to mid-October.
In the meantime, he said the town is continuing its efforts, which includes its Mosquito Control Program. The town sets traps in key mosquito spots, areas where there is standing water and complaint locations. Once a positive sample is found, or there is a cluster of unrelated human West Nile virus or West Nile fever cases found, the town performs ground spraying in that area.
Flower Mound will also place larvicide in areas throughout the town, and it is offering free larvicide dunks to residents.
For information on West Nile virus, go to www.dentoncounty.com.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News