Dallas County

Mosquito Season Is Officially Here. Dallas County Set to Spray for West Nile.

It's here, ladies and gentlemen, Dallas County's first spraying of the upcoming, sure-to-be epic mosquito season. Thursday afternoon, Dallas County Health and Human Services announced that one of its mosquito traps in Balch Springs tested positive for West Nile virus.

The county sprayed Balch Springs overnight Thursday and will continue spraying on Friday and Saturday nights. The county, as it has throughout the spring, asks that residents follow the four "Ds" to reduce the risk of mosquito exposure: 
  • DEET All Day, Every Day: Whenever outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA approved repellents and follow instructions. 
  • Dress: Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing outside. 
  • Drain: Drain or treat all standing water in and around your home or workplace. 
  • Dusk & Dawn: Limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
West Nile is not transmitted by the same aedes Aegypti mosquito that is known to carry 2016's new threat, the Zika virs, but county health officials warn that West Nile could pose an even larger threat. Last year, DCHHS reported 23 cases of West Nile in Dallas County residents, including two deaths. So far in 2016, Dallas County hasn't seen any West Nile infections. Six people have been infected with Zika, but each contracted the birth defect-causing virus either during travel to South America and the Caribbean or by having sex with someone who'd previously contracted the virus.

This weekend's spraying takes aim at the fifth trap in the county that's tested positive for West Nile in 2016. If and when Zika transmission begins locally, it is yet to be seen what steps the county can take to combat the mosquitoes that carry it. Aedes Aegypti isn't as susceptible to spraying as the mosquitoes that carry West Nile, because it doesn't tend to stay outside.
"The Zika mosquito, a daytime biter, likes to bite inside your house and will follow you around. It likes to find an opening. It's an indoor-type of mosquito," former Dallas County Medical Director John Carlo said late last month.

Both Dallas County and the state of Texas have called on the federal government to help Texas with its potential Zika issues. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, no friend of federal power, reached out to President Obama in a letter on Monday.

"As the weather continues to warm in Texas, and flooding persists in many areas of the state, Texas continues to remain at greater risk of sustained local transmission of Zika than most of the rest of the country. We urge you to help ensure a coordinated and robust response by the federal government to combat the spread of the Zika virus, and the timely receipt of federal funds to mitigate this devastating public health threat," he wrote.
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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