Friday, July 20, 2012

Health officials confirm West Nile Virus cases in Lewisville - Allen American

Two confirmed cases of West Nile Virus were reported this week in Lewisville. The cases are the first for this year.

"We don't know where they were infected. There's really no way to confirm where exactly they were infected, but one of the confirmed cases said they spend a lot of time in their backyard with their pet," said Sherry Harper, health and code manager.

Harper said that about 1 percent of the population will show West Nile Virus symptoms. Most people don't exhibit signs, and the disease naturally works its way out of the system. She said the symptoms of West Nile Virus are flu-like symptoms, joint pains, extreme fatigue and even headaches can be trigger points.

"If you begin to have these symptoms, you should go to your doctor immediately. Early detection will help. Doctors will run tests to confirm if a patient has the virus," Harper said. "Residents should be aware that West Nile Virus is here, but it won't affect everyone."

The two local cases of human infection are located in the 1200 block of Logan Drive and the 900 block of Witherby. There have also been confirmed cases of human infection in Denton and Dallas counties this year and one virus-related death in Dallas County.

Lewisville officials have been using mosquito traps in order to determine if the virus is present in the local insect population since May, the beginning of mosquito season. The city found positive results in several areas of the city.

Now, the city is taking further precautions to protect residents against mosquitoes. Lewisville hired a company to spray insecticide along the streets within a half-mile radius of the two infected locations. Spraying was scheduled for Saturday night starting at 10 p.m.

The Denton County Health Department epidemiologist also confirmed that a Flower Mound resident has been positively diagnosed with West Nile Virus. The Town of Flower Mound Environmental Services will immediately increase surveillance and trapping operations in the approximate one-half square mile radius surrounding the area.

In the event that mosquito samplings are found to be positive for West Nile Virus, the town will schedule a mosquito spraying event in the approximate one-half square mile radius surrounding the area. Prior to any spraying event, the public within the affected area will be notified with community notification signs.

Town staff will provide further information if mosquito samples are found to be positive for West Nile Virus. Flower Mound Environmental Services responds to all mosquito concerns with an inspection of the area, larvicidal treatment of any potential mosquito breeding areas and increased efforts to eliminate areas of standing water. In total, two Flower Mound residents have been positively diagnosed with West Nile virus, and one was diagnosed with West Nile fever this year.

Local health officials are cautioning residents to take steps to prevent exposure and infection. Harper said residents should try to avoid or limit exposure to mosquito bites. The Texas Department of Health recommends four steps:

* Try to stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes tend to be most active.

* Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors.

* Use repellent containing the active ingredient Deet when going into areas where mosquitoes might be active.

* Drain standing water from such sources as tires, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, cans, buckets and ground depressions. These are prime mosquito breeding areas.

Harper said mosquito season runs from May to the first of November, but with the extreme temperatures in Texas, it could run through the end of November.

West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes. Harper said the mosquito population is often increased by standing water and other conditions easily controlled by residents.

"Part of our efforts to educate residents is to inform them of what they can do to help keep the mosquito population under control," Harper said. "People should survey their property to make sure they're not creating an environment that mosquitoes like. They may also check with local home stores for their own sprays."

The American Mosquito Control Association recommends the following steps to curb the mosquito population and reduce the chances of West Nile infection:

* Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water.

* Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns or in pet dishes for more than two days.

* Clean debris from rain gutters and remove any standing water under or around structures or on flat roofs.

* Repair leaks around faucets and air conditioner units.

* Change water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week.

* Stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious minnows.

* Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas, and either remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar. These areas may also be treated with Bti or methoprene products.

* Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools and septic tanks.

* Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs. Flush livestock water troughs twice a week.

* Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats, pools, etc. Arrange the tarp to drain the water.

* Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper back filling and grading prevent drainage problems.

* Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.

* If ditches do not flow and contain stagnant water for one week or longer, they can produce large numbers of mosquitoes.

The Texas Department of Health operates a toll-free WNV information line in both English and Spanish at 888-883-9997 and has expanded information posted on its website at www.tdh.state.tx.us. Denton County Health Department also has information about West Nile virus at 940-349-2907 or at dentoncounty.com/heart/wnv.

Residents also are encouraged to report standing water on city-maintained property by calling Lewisville Animal Control at 972-219-3478.

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