DENTON COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – Health officials in Denton County are gearing up for West Nile Virus season and are taking steps to try and find pockets of infestation. Initially, testing will be done in unincorporated areas of the county.

Mosquitoes will be trapped and tested for West Nile. If the tests come back positive officials will then decide whether or not ground spraying should be done in the area.

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Last year Denton County reported nearly 200 cases of West Nile Virus. Denton County Health Department spokeswoman Sarah McKinney said no one expected an infestation of that magnitude. “The county did not have any capacity for trapping or testing mosquitoes last year at all,” she said. This is the first year we’ll be trapping.”

Denton County will begin trapping mosquitoes next month.

As health departments across North Texas begin preparing for West Nile season, other parts of the country are battling a different type of mosquito problem.

The state of Florida is preparing for an invasion of gallinipper mosquitoes. According to LiveScience, the gallinipper is a quarter-sized mosquito whose painful bite is likened to being stabbed with a knife. Not only is the gallinipper about 20 times bigger than the typical mosquito, it preys day and night – everyday mosquitoes usually feed at dawn and dusk.

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Fortunately, North Texans are only dealing with everyday mosquitoes and are being advised to take easy preventative measures. McKinney said, “Our hope is that through expanded prevention methods the effects of West Nile Virus will be kept to a minimum this year. I think everyone was caught off guard last year.”

Health departments are advising residents to take precautions against mosquito bites and potential infection by:

• Staying indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening
• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
• Spraying clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET
• Repairing or replacing all screens in your home that have tears or holes
• Eliminating standing water that collects on your property

Denton County officials will send all of the trapped mosquito specimens to the state, where they will be processed for free. “They’re gonna go out, pick ‘em up,” McKinney said. “We [will then] ship those mosquitoes to Austin.”

In 2012, there were nearly 1,000 cases of the mosquito-borne virus reported in the four major North Texas counties.

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