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West Nile Rising Through the Summer


At the Brazos County Health Department, the calls continue to flood in.

"Right now, we're receiving several calls a day from the residents within the area asking for us to come and pick up birds that are possible, suspect birds for West Nile Virus," said Billy Sanders with the Brazos County Health Department.

Birds like one that came in Wednesday morning. For this season so far, West Nile hotspots have popped up in various neighborhoods across the area. Officials say getting the word out to residents has spiked the calls for checks.

"People just tell other people," Sanders said, "and this is one of the reasons that we're becoming more aware of the problem is because people are spreading the word."

But Texas A&M entomologist Jim Olsen's studies have shown a consistent trend. Like in the past, this year's trend started last month.

"Fairly normal in July to see the build up in the birds and the mosquitoes, and then the concern is August to September," Olsen said. "This is when it can spill over into humans."

"You don't have a drop in numbers until you really get into the deep fall and you get that first heavy freeze," said Sanders, "and that's what it's going to take to slow the mosquito population down."

While Wednesday's heavy rains might have brought what was needed to remove the current population of the mosquito larvae, what it left behind might actually fuel a bigger outbreak in the coming months.

"It does flush out those stagnant pools, but we have a tremendously large mosquito population that has spent quite a bit of time now being exposed to the virus," Olsen said. "Now, with this rain, it's increased the humidity everywhere, so now, they can extend out away from those areas carrying the virus with them."

And birds obviously carry them as well. As for the feathered friend that came in Wednesday, it tested positive as the seventh bird in the Twin Cities with West Nile. It was found on Lee Avenue, right next to Pershing Street where another diseased bird was found.

The hope is a person is not next.

"People need to be very cautious," Olsen said. "Everything rests on them now to take care of themselves and their loved ones."

Health officials continue to urge residents to use repellents with DEET and take care when going out during dawn and dusk.


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