WICHITA FALLS, TX - The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District has captured 13 different species of mosquitoes so far in 2016. While the Zika Virus is capturing headlines around the world, WF-WCPHD Director Lou Kreidler said that the West Nile Virus is the bigger threat to locals.
"We have caught a total of 746 mosquitoes this year," said Kreidler.
So far, none of the mosquitoes trapped have been identified as being infected with the disease. Trap reports from the WF-WCPHD show that 682 of the mosquitoes captured were part of the Culex Quinquefasciatus family and are capable of carrying West Nile. According to Kreidler, August is generally the time of year the WF-WCPHD begins to see West Nile Virus in the community, but recent weather conditions have not been ideal for large breeding.
"The thing that is working in our favor right now is that it is so hot and dry. And so the likelihood that you are going to have mosquitoes breeding is lessened," said Kreidler.
It only takes an area of water the size of a bottle cap for mosquitoes to successfully breed. It's important to dump and drain any standing water in order to make sure the bugs won't breed. That's why Kreidler reminds locals to take precautions.
"If they have pools out for their dogs or their dog water, make sure that is dumped out at least once a week and wipe the sides out because the mosquitoes will lay their eggs on the sides of the bowls," said Kreidler.
It's also not a bad idea for home owners to clear out their gutters if they are looking to keep their residence Zika-free.
"Because they catch leaves and they hold all of that rotting material in them, mosquitoes love that. It's a perfect breeding site for them. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out," said Kreidler.
It's also important to wear long clothing during dusk and dawn if possible. Mosquitoes capable of spreading West Nile are most active during those hours. Make sure to use plenty of bug spray with Deet as an active ingredient.
While none of the mosquitoes trapped and tested have been identified as carrying Zika, WF-WCPHD has captured at least 15 mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus. Earlier this week, the CDC sent a historic warning advising pregnant women and their partners not to travel to a small community just north of downtown Miami where Florida Health Officials identified local transmission of the virus.