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Combating West Nile
by Gary Kent
Aug 22, 2012 | 1150 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — City Public Works Director Albert Bridge said Monday that mosquito spraying will begin again this week.

“We’ve been spraying off and on,” Bridge said. Even though, the continued dry weather has kept the mosquito population down this year.

The public works director was commenting as state and national health officials were reporting Monday that more than 455 cases of West Nile virus had been confirmed in humans in 48 Texas counties..

More than 20 of those cases had resulted in the deaths of the victims.

Bridge said the city also has continued its use of larvicide wherever workers have located standing water.

Public health officials have been warning Texas residents to take steps to reduce mosquito breeding grounds across the state, as cases of West Nile virus have been reported.

So far, most of the cases have been reported in North Texas, where recent rains have provided the breeding grounds for mosquitoes. For the first time in 45 years, Dallas has been using aerial spraying to combat an outbreak of the deadly disease.

The disease is a form of what medical professionals call Japanese encephalitis. It causes swelling of the brain and can result in loss of brain function or death.

Infected mosquitoes have been located in Corpus Christi in several locations.

Health officials ask that residents check their property and empty any items which might be holding water for a period of several days.

Water containers left outside for animals and pets should be emptied regularly and refilled with fresh water.

Old tires, discarded cans, machinery, bottles and other items that can hold water for days should be checked and emptied. Grass and weeds should be mowed regularly.

About 80 percent of the time, victims of West Nile virus show no symptoms. The disease usually affects younger and older victims more seriously.

Even though mosquito eggs and larvae usually thrive in wet weather, health officials are blaming the hot, dry conditions in the state this year with the unusual spread of some varieties of mosquitoes.

Hot weather speeds up the life cycle of the flying insects, and that accelerates the replication of the virus in infected insects.

Medical experts warn that when the weather is hot and dry, any water left in a container can quickly turn stagnant, because the containers are not flushed by rain or runoff.

Bridge said that is where the larvicide that the city uses helps control mosquito populations in Beeville.

City crews working with the street department know where to find standing water, and the large, white tablets are dropped into those places. The tablets dissolve and kill mosquito larvae.

Bridge said the city is about to make a change in the larvicide it uses and start using a more effective product.

Spraying in neighborhoods during the evening hours, when mosquitoes are more active, kills the adult insects.

Bridge said the city normally loans its mosquito spraying equipment to the county during times like this. But that requires an interlocal agreement between the Bee County Commissioners Court and the City Council.

So far, no such agreement has been approved.

Most of the disease cases were being reported in North Texas. Dallas County had 104 cases on the books by Monday and Denton County, just north of Dallas, had 42 cases.

Those areas have had more rainfall than counties south of San Antonio.

Only one case of West Nile virus had been confirmed in the Coastal Bend by Monday. That was in Nueces County.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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