(credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Dept. of Entomology)

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Of all the North Texas counties Denton was the first to report a human case of the West Nile virus. Now officials in the City of Denton are kicking up the war on mosquitoes.

There hadn’t been any human cases reported in two years, and then on May 31 the Denton County Health Department (DCHD) confirmed the first human case for 2012. A second human case of the virus was also later confirmed.

With the human case of the virus and the results of continued testing, the City of Denton has now issued a Risk Level 5 health alert.

In the City of Denton, the Level 5 alert means, “the probability of a person contracting a mosquito-borne disease, like West Nile, is high.”

Because of the Level 5 declaration a special called city council meeting was held Tuesday night. It was there leaders decided the city would spray for mosquitoes in the area where the human cases have been reported – the sufferers in both human cases of the virus live in the same neighborhood. No date has been set for the spraying.

Back when the first case of West Nile was reported in the county, DCHD Chief Epidemiologist Juan Rodriguez made it a point to stress that not every mosquito bite results in illness.

“Not every mosquito carries the virus, and less than 1 percent of the bites from mosquitoes that do have the virus actually cause serious illness.”

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say this could be the worst mosquito season in decades. Health experts believe the mild winter and early spring rains are to blame.

While human West Nile infection is rare, health professionals advise that, to protect against mosquito bites and potential infection, North Texans should:

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET
  • Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes
  • Eliminate standing water that collects on your property

Human cases of West Nile have also been reported in Dallas and Tarrant County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last year 43 people died from the West Nile virus. Two of those were in Texas.

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