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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s the first week of May and the start of mosquito season in North Texas. According to health officials, there are different safety concern this year because doctors are dealing with two dangerous viruses – West Nile and Zika.
Currently there is no vaccine for West Nile or Zika, so health professionals say people need to take proper precautions and prevent getting mosquito bites.
To date, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) reports four imported cases of the West Nile Virus. The most recent positive test came this week from a trap in an unincorporated area of the county.
There hasn’t been a localized transmission of Zika, but there is concern about people traveling to countries where the virus is problematic and then returning to North Texas.
DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson said, “The best way to prevent it [Zika] is number one, even though there’s not a travel advisory, don’t go to those countries where the Zika Virus is in outbreak. But if you do go make sure you’re using DEET… use some type of mosquito repellent to prevent the transmission.”
The biggest concern is that pregnant women infected with Zika could spread the disease to their unborn child. While the Zika virus rarely results in hospitalization or death, the biggest concern is the virus’s possible link to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads.
Thompson said, “We’re also trapping and monitoring for both mosquitoes that breed the Zika Virus as well as the West Nile Virus.”
Counties across North Texas routinely perform ground spraying/fogging to control mosquito populations. Workers with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and county employees across the state monitor mosquito traps and then determine if the total number of mosquitos caught is above “the treatable threshold” and merits ground or aerial spraying.
All North Texans are being asked to adhere to the five D’s when it comes to controlling the presence of mosquitoes.
- DRAIN—all areas of standing water including changing water in wading pools, birdbaths, and cleaning out gutters;
- DEET—Use bug spray and protect clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET;
- DRESS—Dress in light- colored clothing with long sleeves and wear long pants;
- DUSK/DAWN—Limit outdoor exposure at dusk and dawn;
- DOORS—Keep door and window screens in good repair