Now that school is out and summer has officially started, we are fast approaching the season of mosquitoes. There was an explosion last year in the number of people catching the West Nile Virus transmitted from mosquito bites. Texas reported over 1800 cases including 89 deaths. Last year Wichita County had 5 reported cases of West Nile Virus. This year so far there have been no reported cases of the illness but environmental health experts say we can never be too safe.
Stagnant water, a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus can be found all around and it only takes a cap full of water for mosquitoes to reproduce. This has Wichita County Environmental Health Administrator Susan Morris concerned.
"You should be aware that West Nile Virus is in the area. We had it last year. We have the mosquito that is capable of transmitting the disease. We have the birds that are capable of carrying the disease so it's a pretty good chance that it will show up again" said Morris.
The Southern House Mosquito is the common carrier of West Nile in Texoma. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, Wichita County has an integrated pest management program to monitor the mosquitoes in the area.
"We have traps out all over the city. We set them out almost every day depending on the weather because this whole process is weather dependent. It's called Gravitrap" said Morris.
After the mosquitoes are caught, they are sent to Austin to be tested and identified. But in the end, environmental health officials say making smart decisions by getting rid of stagnant water around your homes will help prevent the outbreak of mosquitoes.
In order to reduce your chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes, it is highly recommended that you practice the four D's. Avoid going out during dusk and dawn, dress with long pants and long sleeves, dump out any standing water and use mosquito repellent with the ingredient DEET.