West Nile Worries

West Nile Worries

A group of mosquitoes in Wichita Falls tested positive for the West Nile virus.

The mosquitoes were collected on August 19th as part of the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District's mosquito surveillance program, and were found on the north side of Wichita Falls near Sheppard Air Force Base.

"We just need to let our citizens know that West Nile virus is here once again and to use caution when going outside and mosquitoes are active," said Susan Morris, the Environmental Health Administrator for the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District.

While health officials weren't surprised that West Nile virus has returned to The Falls, they are saying there is increased mosquito activity this year compared to years past, even in the midst of the drought.

Officials are finding many mosquitoes around homes as people attempt to harvest rainwater. Also, because of the drought, many people can't put water into swimming pools. Standing water in these pools attracts pools of mosquitoes and mosquito larvae.

To minimize the threat of mosquito bites and contracting West Nile, health officials urge you to practice the four "D"s.

"Stay in at dusk and dawn, when the mosquitoes are most active, dress with long sleeves and long pants, use a mosquito repellent with deet, and dump and drain any standing water," Morris said.

Morris also says that if you are collecting water as part of your conservation efforts, make sure to keep it covered or to treat it, so that you're not breeding mosquitoes in the water.

According to the CDC, most people who become infected with West Nile do not develop any symptoms, but about 20% develop a fever with a variety of other symptoms like headache, joint pains, and vomiting.

The risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities because of greater exposure to mosquitoes.

Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6