West Nile Risks Rising

An unusually rainy summer could play a role in West Nile levels continuing to rise heading into the school year.

“The rain does bring more mosquitoes,” said Renae Crutchfield, spokesperson for Dallas County Health and Human Services.

“At this time we are in the peak of mosquito season,” she said, adding that the department expects the number of human cases to spike going forward. “This is not going to be abnormal — although it is not good news.”

Neighborhoods along the Preston Road corridor are seeing the evidence from Highland Park to north of the Galleria.

A North Dallas man recently became the first in Dallas to die from the virus this year. The resident of the 75248 zip code [north of Beltline Road, between the Dallas North Tollway and Coit Road] was diagnosed with West Nile virus on July 14. The county reported his death on July 28, adding that he did have underlying medical conditions as well.

In late July and early August, mosquito samples taken in Highland Park tested positive for West Nile, prompting ground-spraying east of Preston Road, roughly between Travis Street and McFarlin Boulevard. More spraying was done later at town tennis courts and public rights of way.

As of Aug. 21, 10 human West Nile cases have been reported this year in Dallas County, with several in Far North Dallas and one as close as the Vickery Park area.

As for the weather, June saw more than double its normal rainfall and July nearly double, according to iweathernet.com. Rainfall measured at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport totaled 8.44 inches in June, including a record 3.84 inches on June 24. July got 4.12 inches.

“Certainly wet weather can contribute to areas of standing water,” said Tempest Brunson, town services coordinator for Highland Park. “However, our parks department staff are doing a great job of keeping an eye on and treating those places that historically collect water.”

Brunson said the county and town monitor the situation weekly. The town also monitors storm water inlets, easements, and alleys. Residents can report mosquito complaints and receive free mosquito dunks.

“We want to stop the mosquitos before they get wings,” she said.

University Park also traps mosquitos for weekly West Nile testing but has not had any positive tests yet this year nor any unusual activity despite the heavy rains, assistant parks director Brent Jones said. “I haven’t noticed any differences yet.”

Health officials recommend following the four Ds to avoid mosquito bites and viruses such as West Nile.

When outside, use insect repellent containing DEET or other EPA-approved ingredients.

Wear long, loose, light-colored clothing outside. The insects are attracted to dark colors.

Drain or treat all standing water around your home.

Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

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