Third mosquito-borne illness possibly headed to Houston area

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Workers with the Montgomery County Mosquito Abatement Program are starting their gas-powered, truck-mounted engines and spraying for mosquitoes every morning and every night right now and they will continue that work for two more months.

The reason is the sharp spike in the mosquito-carried illness West Nile virus that is sweeping across our area. To date, 17 people have been infected with the serious sickness. And officials say a mosquito in Harris County has tested positive for the Chikungunya virus.

"It's not about trying to avoid the annoying bug bite, it's about prevention of the spread of a serious disease," said Dr. Mark Escott, Medical Director for The Montgomery County Hospital District.

Now there is a new threat headed our way. Escott says another mosquito-born illness called Dengue Fever is coming to Houston in the near future.

It's a disease that is very prevalent in South America and Mexico, and it causes very high fevers and severe bleeding in its most serious form. It also can have a mortality rate of up to 10 percent.

So far, no one has been diagnosed with Dengue in this part of Texas yet, but Escott says it's on the way.

The best thing anyone can do right now to protect themselves is load up on insect repellant containing DEET.

"This is something everyone needs to do every night between dusk and dawn to prevent these diseases, this is a serious concern," Escott said.

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