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North Texans Fighting Mosquitoes Ahead Of West Nile

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – April showers bring April mosquitoes, and with that the possibility of West Nile virus.  More and more North Texans are turning to a high-tech, albeit expensive way to repel bugs.

“When we’re here at home, I don’t even worry about it,” said Dallasite Tricia Davidson, who believes the automated misting system in her backyard shields her daughter, her dog, and her family.  “It gives me confidence that what we’re doing protects us and it’s really peace of mind that I don’t really have to worry about West Nile while I’m here.”

The system at the Davidson home comes from MosquitoNix; it runs three times day — or on command with a remote — and puts out Pyrethrum, a chemical refined from the Chrysanthemum flower.

MosquitoNix general manager Mike O’Neal claims the chemical is less concentrated than over-the-counter repellents.  “That’s a higher concentrate,” O’Neal said of the commercial products adding, “We dilute it, about 100 times less than that.”

The company uses 32 ounces in every 55-gallon barrel of water.  But it’s pricy — $2800 to install, said O’Neal, and then roughly $132 a month to maintain.  After confirming the price tag O’Neal reiterated that the system is automatic, going off when needed. “Dusk and dawn, because that’s when mosquitoes are prevalent most.   It’s very quick, it only goes off for those 45-seconds, and it knocks down mosquitoes very well.”

Less expensive is personal yard spraying, which O’Neal said would run about $79.  Least expensive of all, though, is emptying water from birdbaths, or pots, or koy ponds that attract the bugs.

The Dallas County Health Department says mosquitos get really active when the temperature reaches 60-degrees and higher.  Add that to spring rains and you’ve got potential breeding grounds everywhere.

West Nile may seem capricious.  In 2012 it ravaged Dallas County with 398 human cases and 20 deaths; last year there were 16 human cases and two deaths.  Experts say vigilance and spraying helped.  But Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zach Thompson warns that like the flu, the West Nile virus mutates, and has done so virtually every year since it was first identified in New York in 1999.

“The NY99, we don’t see that circulating now in 2014, or last year in 2013 or 2012.   We don’t know from year-to-year what we’re going to see; it’s fluctuated in Dallas County since 2002,” Thompson told CBS 11 News.

Dallas County has already started making plans for spraying this season.  Health workers also trap mosquitoes year round, specifically looking for the virus.  They haven’t seen it so far this winter and spring.

Still, the best bet to lessen mosquito populations is by emptying standing water wherever you see it, before the season starts in earnest.   It’s one of the four “Ds” of protection: Drain (water), Dress (long sleeves and pants), Dusk and Dawn (when mosquitoes are most active), and use DEET, the most effective mosquito repellent chemical.

Click here to find out more information on West Nile from DCHHS.

MosquitoNix can be reached in both Dallas and Tarrant CountiesCheck out their website or call (972) 934-2000 in Dallas — call (817) 328-1589 in Fort Worth.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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