Mosquito Control continues fight against West Nile virus

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Harris County Mosquito Control continues its spraying efforts after news of the first reported death from West Nile virus this year.

A fourth human case in Houston was reported on Friday.

Officials are asking for the public's help in identifying infected birds.

The public still doesn't know much about the deceased victim other than he was a man between the ages of 75 and 84 from southwest Houston.

What is known is that it is peak season for mosquitoes, and there are things you can do to protect you and your family.

Harris County Mosquito Control Division Director Rudy Bueno is on the hunt.

More than 200 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus since the very first was detected on May 31.

Bueno told Local 2, "We've also detected 40 birds that have died, which is kind of unusual because the past three or four years it's been kind of quiet. So, this year we're seeing an increase number of birds that have died of West Nile virus."

There are nine drop-off sites around the county where residents can take dead birds believed to be infected with the virus. The birds must be dead less than a day and have no signs of trauma, ants or maggots.

Bueno added, "The mosquitoes will bite the birds, pick up the virus and then they will spread that to people or to other animals."

About 80 percent of people infected don't show symptoms, but signs can include, fever, headache, stiff neck, disorientation and, rarely, death.

There are things you can do to protect yourself, like wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts, if you can. The use of insect repellant with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 is also encouraged.

Bueno said most West Nile carriers are known as southern house mosquitoes.

They're nocturnal and love getting inside.

He explained, "So even when they bite a person, often times they won't feel the bite. So that's why they're pretty dangerous, because they're carrying the virus first of all and they're very quiet."

Mosquito Control officials said mosquito-proofing your home is just as important. Here are some tips:

  • Don't "feed" storm drains.
  • Sweep up lawn clippings, leaves and tree limbs.
  • Empty containers of water around your house.
  • Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least once a week.
  • Keep rain gutters free of debris and keep door and window screens in good condition.

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