Bug Battle: Brazos Valley vs. West Nile

By: Toni Harrison
By: Toni Harrison

West Nile has suddenly jumped to the forefront of public concern. The recent infections of a healthy high school student and Bryan police officer prove that anyone and everyone can be at risk for West Nile.

"I think it behooves the public to just consider that their area is positive for West Nile," said Bob Holmes of the City of Bryan.

The West Nile Virus has been found throughout Brazos County, but mosquito fogging trucks no longer exist in the twin cities. They've been replaced with city employees, like Holmes, who work on foot.

"We have two ways we do it; we find storm culverts, drains and places where we can catch mosquitoes in a confined area and we'll fog those. The other is to look for standing water and treat that," said Holmes.

Bryan and College Station stopped using spray trucks six years ago. Mosquito expert Dr. Jim Olson says he feels the current method is more effective.

"You get a better bang for the buck and less insecticide in the environment by treating their resting sites," said Olson.

But no method is 100 percent. Olson says this year West Nile carrying mosquitoes are worse than ever.

"This is the most extensive I've seen it in mosquitoes in terms of frequency of mosquitoes caught that are positive and the area covered," said Olson.

Even the smallest puddles are breeding grounds for West Nile carrying mosquitoes. While the cities are taking steps to alleviate the problem, experts say it's up to individuals to change their behavior to keep mosquitoes away.

"Wear protective clothing. Wear repellents when you're outside, particularly during the evening hours when mosquitoes are active. Get rid of the breeding sites on your property and make sure mosquitoes don't get in the house," said Olson.

So while the city is covering the public land, make sure you protect your private property, both inside and out.

Here are some helpful tips to protect yourself:

Remember the "Four Ds;" DEET, Dress, Dusk and Dawn, and Drain:

1. Apply insect repellent that contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide). Be sure to read label instructions. Spray clothing with repellent as well as exposed skin.

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

3. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, times infected mosquitoes are most active.

4. Drain standing water in your backyard and neighborhood; old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters are mosquito-breeding sites.


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