Officials urge taking precautions against mosquitoes
Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack held a press conference July 5 to remind the public to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites after 38 positive test results of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus were discovered in Montgomery County.
“(This) puts us on track for one of the worst seasons we’ve had since 2014,” Noack said. “In 2014, the severity of not only infections within the mosquito population (was high) but we also set a high for the number of individual patients that had West Nile.”
There were 31 people in Montgomery County who contracted West Nile in 2014, according to county health officials.
Residents should take precautions during any mosquito season, Noack noted, but preventative measures are particularly this season with the high number of mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile.
Noack said Precinct 3 officials are working with other county commissioners as well as county judge to ensure spraying and testing for the entire county. Currently, officials are focused on South Montgomery County because the majority of West Nile cases are typically found along the Spring Creek area.
There are 78 operational geographic areas throughout South Montgomery County where mosquitos are regularly tested. Of those areas, in 38 zones mosquitos were found that tested positive for West Nile as of July 4, Noack said.
“We are doing everything we can to make certain that we are treating the affected areas with a chemical called malathion. We also go in and treat any standing water that we see,” Noack said. “We spray the roadways, the rights of way and we encourage our residents to make certain that they wear repellent when they go outdoors and that they eliminate any standing water,”
Officials with Noack’s office are also working closely with the Montgomery County Public Health District to monitor areas that mosquitoes have tested positive so that health officials can correlate that data with any positive test results for human cases that may arise, Noack added.
Symptoms of West Nile are typically mild, and an epidemiologist with the Montgomery County Public Health District noted that 80 percent of those who contract the disease will show no symptoms. Those who do may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting and body aches that may pass after two or three days. If not, then the person may need to seek medical treatment.
As of July 5, there had been no reports of West Nile in humans. Authorities are typically notified of a human case four to six weeks after hospitalization.
Additional moisture from the July 4 storm will create more breeding grounds for mosquitoes, Noack said. In an effort to help keep the mosquito population in check, Precinct 3 officials will be purchasing two additional spray units to have more vehicles out spraying roads, ditches and bodies of standing water.
Justin Fausek, director of the South Montgomery County Mosquito Abatement team, said that malathion treatment is applied in targeted areas.
“Whenever we find a positive within a zone, we treat the entire zone. So each zone has at least one mosquito trap, if not more, that we test on a weekly basis,” Fausek explained. “If (a test) comes back positive, we go out and we spray the area. We treat it twice within one week. That way we make sure that we get a pretty close application so we can have maximum effect.”
Officials spray enough chemical to be effective without putting too much chemical into the environment that would do more harm than good, Fausek added. As long as guidelines for spraying chemicals are followed there should not be any harmful effects on humans or animals.
Last year, Precinct 3 officials started testing mosquitoes for the West Nile Virus in-house. Prior to that, mosquitoes would be sent to the state for testing and the county would wait seven to 10 days for the results. With the rapid test done in-house, results are seen within two hours, Noack said.
In Montgomery County, there were 10 human cases of West Nile discovered in 2016 and two human cases found in 2017. There have been none reported this year, Noack noted.
“Because of the fact that we can test more quickly, get the results and then deploy the resources to the affected area in a more timely manner, we’re seeing a number of human cases being reduced each year,” Noack said.