Plano Star-courier > News
City discovers West Nile Virus in mosquitoes
The Plano Environmental Health Department is increasing efforts to eradicate mosquitoes from portions of Plano after West Nile Virus was discovered during routine testing.
While samples are collected throughout the city, the virus has so far only been discovered in the 75074 zip code, said Geoffrey Heinicke, the city's environmental health manager. Heinicke said additional testing is being conducted to determine what the best course of action is to keep residents safe.
"Beginning in May we started setting traps out in order to trap mosquitoes," Heinicke said. "There are some pockets in town that we know are conducive to mosquitoes since they have the perfect habitat as far as water, shade and foliage go. With the mild winter and the spring rains, the conditions are perfect for the mosquito population."
When an area with a high concentration of mosquitoes is discovered, city workers have a variety of options including deploying a larvicide in stagnant water to kill mosquito larvae, as well as spraying to take out the adult mosquitoes. Heinicke said spraying typically occurs between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., times when most people are not outside their homes.
While the city has ways of killing mosquitoes, Heinicke said the best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to limit suitable mosquito habitat and take precautions against being bitten.
"We have what we call the 'four D's,'" Heinicke said. "When you go outside, you want to make sure you use some sort of insect repellant that contains DEET. You want to avoid going outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. You also want to make sure you dress appropriately with long sleeves and long pants. The final 'D' is to drain any standing water you have in your yard."
In 2012, there have been no cases of West Nile Virus reported in humans in Collin County, but Denton County had one case at the end of May.
Sarah McKinney of the Denton County Health Department said the individual lived in an unincorporated area in Denton County. The case was the first human case reported in the county in the past three years.
McKinney said there are several things to remember when looking for an insect repellant, including some precautions to take when dealing with newborn babies.
"With so many insect repellants on the market, DEET concentrations can widely vary," she said. "First, you should check the label to be sure the product contains DEET. A higher the concentration of DEET -doesn't mean it is stronger; it just means it will offer protection longer -- anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. Choose a product that contains 10-30 percent DEET, depending on how long you will need coverage."
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend using DEET products on babies under 2 months, McKinney said. Parents should limit the child's exposure to mosquitoes at such a young age, including keeping them indoors and using mosquito nets over strollers.
Plano residents needing information on West Nile Virus are invited to call the city's hotline at 972-941-7180.