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DCHHS 2013 West Nile Virus Plan Of Attack Underway

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DALLAS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – While the calendar inches closer to the end of mosquito season health officials in Dallas County are already working on their West Nile virus plan of attack for next year.

To date, nearly 50 people across the state of Texas have died from health issues related to the West Nile Virus – 14 of those deaths have been in Dallas County.

Dallas County official’s aggressively battled mosquito West Nile infection with aerial and ground spraying, but Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS), says the process involved hands-on learning, since this year’s outbreak was so abnormal.

“How do you plan from 2002, when we first started tracking West Nile Virus, to date?” he asked. “We had not had a major outbreak. Our largest number of deaths in Dallas County was in 2006, there were four deaths.”

DCHHS is working with City of Dallas officials to address problems that came up this year. Thompson said a major issue was that some cities were submitting their mosquito specimens to the state, not to the county.

“We need to streamline that to get more feedback and a faster turnaround on lab results from mosquito pools.”

Thompson said combating the West Nile problem must also include trying to find the root cause.

“We’ve got to look at the environmental factors in Texas and what contributed to the increased number of mosquitoes. It was Texas this year, where is it next year?”

In preparation for 2013 DCHHS is also looking at protections and prevention. Simply put Thompson said, “You have a vaccine for horses but no vaccine for humans.”

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