West Nile cases down from last year

In 2012 the virus struck the nation hard with more than 5,000 reported cases and nearly 300 deaths

HOUSTON - While mosquito samples in the Houston area have tested positiveĀ  for the West Nile Virus, the infection rate in humans is nothing like last year.

However, researchers have discovered some interesting trends from that period that could help in getting ahead of the disease.

Last year, Texas health officials launched a ground and aerial assault against West Nile Virus.

After five years of relatively mild mosquito activity, 2012 struck the nation hard, with more than 5,000 reported cases and nearly 300 deaths.

Dallas County had the most cases.

Researchers have poured over data collected in Dallas last summer, to look for patterns that could predict future outbreaks.

Houston doctor, Kristy Murray of Baylor College of Medicine says winter weather plays a large role in the summer mosquito population.

"If you don't have a good freeze it's going to, of course, set you up for more mosquitoes later," Murray said.

More infected mosquitoes means more human cases, so experts suggestĀ  spraying sooner, rather than later.

Contrary to popular, heavy rain could help, by washing out mosquito breeding grounds.

"It's really the nice rain that helps to flush those areas out and keep us free from mosquitoes," Murray said.

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