Healthcare

Dallas County Hit With First West Nile-Positive Mosquitoes of 2017

DCHHS Medical Director Dr. Christopher Perkins explains that proper mosquito bite prevention involves DEET sprays.
DCHHS Medical Director Dr. Christopher Perkins explains that proper mosquito bite prevention involves DEET sprays. Brian Maschino
After warning two weeks ago that Dallas was on the edge of mosquito season, Dallas County Health and Human Services confirmed Thursday afternoon that it's found West Nile virus, a sometimes-fatal mosquito-borne pathogen. Three mosquito traps in Balch Springs and Mesquite tested positive for the West Nile virus this week. Mosquito abatement teams sprayed the affected areas in Balch Springs Thursday night and will do so again Friday, according to DCHHS.

DCHHS Director Zach Thompson says that West Nile virus remains the county's biggest mosquito-borne threat over more exotic diseases such as the Zika virus, which has been blamed for an epidemic of birth defects in South America and has been found in parts of the southern U.S.

click to enlarge Scott Sawlis of DCHHS demonstrates a new mosquito trap - BRIAN MASCHINO
Scott Sawlis of DCHHS demonstrates a new mosquito trap
Brian Maschino
“DCHHS encourages residents to be a part of the solution by eliminating insect breeding areas and larvae before mosquitoes reach the airborne stage,” Thompson said.

As mosquito season heats up, DCHHS recommends that all Dallas County residents follow the four D's of mosquito prevention, DEET, Dress, Drain and Dusk/Dawn. Everyone over 6 months of age should wear DEET-based mosquito repellent whenever they go outside; wear long, loose clothing when outdoors; drain all standing water; and limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn hours, when mosquitoes are most active.


click to enlarge DCHHS is doing research on the local mosquito population. - BRIAN MASCHINO
DCHHS is doing research on the local mosquito population.
Brian Maschino
Last year, 61 Dallas County residents were infected with West Nile. In 2012, the county suffered its worst West Nile outbreak, seeing 398 infections and 20 deaths. In 80 percent of cases, those infected have no symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who do show signs of infection typically experience headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Fewer than 1 percent of people infected with West Nile experience serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young