Weatherford Democrat

Local News

August 30, 2012

Two Parker County West Nile cases reported

PARKER COUNTY — While other towns and counties are spraying to cut down the number of mosquitos and warning residents of the dangers of West Nile virus, spread by the insects, Parker County has remained mostly in the clear — until now.

Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Wednesday that there are two cases of the West Nile Virus in Parker County. Both cases are West Nile neuroinvasive disease. There are two forms of the illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease and West Nile fever, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The symptoms of severe infection from West Nile neuroinvasive disease include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. West Nile fever is the milder form of the illness. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

The Parker County cases involve a 75-year-old Poolville man and a 64-year-old Weatherford woman. These are the only two confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in Parker County.

In May, a case of West Nile was reported in a horse in eastern Parker County. That was an earlier than normal appearance of the virus, said Texas Department of State Health Services epidemiologist Jim Schuermann at the time.

West Nile can be fatal in horses and humans, Schuermann said. Last year, there were two human deaths from West Nile statewide. This year so far, there have been 31, according to the department of state health services. Eleven of those deaths have been in Dallas County and four have been in Tarrant County. No other Texas County has experienced as many human deaths, and so far this year, Parker County has not experienced any deaths as a result of West Nile infection.

Even though rains were not abundant earlier this summer in Parker County, an early jumpstart from the mild winter gave mosquitoes all they needed for a mid-summer resurgence, and with recent rains mosquito numbers could increase, noted Mike Merchant, entomologist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

“This is one of the worst years we’ve seen in North Texas for the mosquito-borne disease called West Nile virus,” Merchant said. “As a first line of defense when going outdoors, especially at dusk or early morning, everyone should use insect repellent, preferably one containing DEET, IR-3535, picaridin or lemon oil of eucalyptus, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.”

Merchant also offered the following advice:

•Make sure mosquitoes aren’t breeding on your own property. It only takes a little water standing for a week or so to breed mosquitoes. And even without rain, stagnant water can come from shrinking ponds or creeks, irrigation water, or even washing the car. Some of the most common places to find standing water this time of year are in water catch basins, storm drains, flower pot dishes, untended water features and neglected swimming pools. After a rain event, make sure you don’t have small containers, wheelbarrows or even children’s toys holding water.

• Standing water in catchment basins, ditches and other hard-to-drain sites can be treated with an insect growth regulator containing methoprene or the bacterial insecticide Bti. These insecticides are safe for the environment and come in dissolvable doughnut, briquettes or granular form.

• Usually fish ponds, streams or creeks are not as much of a concern because fish often take care of the problem there.

• Mosquitoes spend most of their time during the day in shady resting sites around the yard. So treating sites like tall grass, shrubs and trees, as well as shaded eaves, walls and especially doorways of the house can provide significant mosquito suppression. When you treat shaded doorways you can eliminate those mosquitoes that often get swept into the house when people come and go.

• Pump-up and hose-end sprayers and aerosol cans for backyard use can also be used to treat trees, shrubs and ground cover where mosquitoes rest during the heat of the day. Look for products that promise multi-week control. Insecticides containing lambda-cyhalothrin, deltamethrin and cyfluthrin are good choices when the goal is long-term mosquito control. If you choose to do it yourself, read and following the pesticide label directions carefully. All landscape sprays should be applied in the evening or early morning before bees and butterflies are active. Don’t spray insecticides on windy days or when rain is expected.

• If you don’t like the idea of treating yourself, and mosquitoes are a problem, another option is to hire a pest management company. Professionals have the tools and knowledge to apply insecticides properly and to successfully control mosquitoes.

Department of state health services staff also reminded residents to:

• Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

• Dress in long sleeves and long pants when you are outside.

• Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

• Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed.

• Find more information on the West Nile Virus at the DSHS website, www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westNile.

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