Preparing for West Nile Season

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It's become an annual rite in the Brazos Valley: preparing for the West Nile season.

After an active 2006 season with 13 confirmed human cases, the Brazos County Health Department hosted a 2007 West Nile Virus Control Strategy meeting Thursday afternoon.

"This seems to be widespread now through both of the twin cities," said Jim Olson with the Texas A&M Department of Entomology. "Repeat performances have been particularly in our older areas of Bryan and College Station."

At Thursday's meeting, officials reiterated the importance of having a control strategy in place before the bugs arrive, which should be as soon as warmer weather descends on the Brazos Valley.

"The primary species carrying the West Nile virus around here is a bird feeder," said Olson. "And they don't tend to feed on humans unless they are trapped into a situation where that's all they have to feed on."

According to Olson, one of the most likely locations people can be bit by this type of mosquito is inside one's own home.

The best protection is the four D's:

  • Dusk and dawn are the times of day when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants.
  • Deet, is the active ingredient you should look for in repellents.
  • Drain any standing water in around your house.

    Olson says preparation is important since mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found throughout the community.

    "We have found no locations in Bryan or College Station right now that haven't had West Nile active at some point in time," said Olson.

    Officials say residents can also help by reporting any dead birds found, in particular, crows, blue jays, cardinals and raptors. Those calls can be directed to the Brazos County Health Department for recording.

    Among last year's statistics for the 2006 West Nile season, there were a reported 119 deaths occurring nationwide. Twenty-six of those were in Texas.

    Texas ranked highest in mortality rates in 2006, which was up from second-most in 2005.