West Nile Virus
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- Texas State Fair Operators Hoping To Keep West Nile Away
- Central Texas Man Can't Walk After West Nile Infection
- Should You be Worried about West Nile?
- North Texan At Least 55th Texas West Nile Death
- El Paso Woman At Least 54th Texas West Nile Death
- Health Officials Expect Fewer Cases Of West Nile After Rains
- Another West Nile Death Reported In North Texas
- CDC: Nation On Track For Deadliest West Nile Year
- 2 More West Nile Deaths Reported In North Texas
- Different Approaches to Handling West Nile Threat in Central Texas
- Special West Nile Broadcast
- Georgetown Spraying Pesticide To Keep Mosquitoes At Bay
- 3rd West Nile Death Confirmed In Travis County
- Questions Remain For Austin West Nile Spraying
- West Nile Found Across Austin
- Advice For Clearing Mosquitoes, Avoiding West Nile Virus
- Mosquito Relief For Central Texas Still Months Away
- Breaking Down West Nile Virus Risk
- El Paso Reports West Nile Death, TX Death Toll Climbs To 44
- West Nile Worriers Crowd ER's
- Worst Year Ever For West Nile In Texas
- Substantial Percentage Of West Nile Cases Being Confirmed by Blood Banks
- 2nd West Nile Death Confirmed In Travis County
- Officials Report 36th Texas West Nile death
- Texas West Nile Cases More Than Double In 2 Weeks
- 2 More Texas West Nile Fever Deaths Reported
- 2 More West Nile Fever Deaths Reported In Texas
- 4 More West Nile Deaths Reported In Texas
- Pesticide Alternatives To Ward Off Mosquitoes
- Researchers Make Progress on West Nile Vaccine
- Dallas Area West Nile Virus Spraying Interrupted
- Williamson County, Like Texas, Having Unusually Bad Year For West Nile
- West Nile Death Confirmed In Williamson County
- Dallas-Area Aerial Spraying For Mosquitoes Starts Thursday Night
- Dallas Signs Up For Aerial Spraying Over West Nile Virus
- West Nile Virus Changing Behaviors
- 17 Cases Of West Nile Virus Reported In Travis County
- How Many West Nile Cases Warrant Mosquito Spraying in Austin?
- 2 Diagnosed With West Nile Virus In Williamson County, 2 in Hays County
- Texas Seeing Bulk Of West Nile Cases
How Many West Nile Cases Warrant Mosquito Spraying in Austin?
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
In Austin/Travis County, there have now been 13 confirmed or suspected human cases of West Nile Virus infection, including one fatality. Additionally, 69 mosquito samplings from 20 different local zip codes have tested positive for West Nile carriers, compared to zero positive tests in the last few years.
Still, the local health authority will not spray airborne insecticide to kill the blood-suckers, except “In the event of a public health emergency” says Dr. Phil Huang, Director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
We have heard that ‘public health emergency’ threshold referred to time and again, and like many Austinites, we too have wondered, “where we cross that line”, as Ashley Perez puts it. Perez is a dog trainer who is routinely bugged by the mosquitoes, and she says the increasing incidence of West Nile this year “does elevate my concern.”
But Perez is also bothered by the thought of widespread spraying of poisons to kill them off, “I definitely feel torn”.
And that is the same dilemma facing Dr. Huang, who has the power to make the call to turn on the sprayers. So we asked him what has to happen for this to become a public health emergency that would warrant spraying? The answer, just like the insecticide itself, is foggy; a complicated formula involving the number of cases, how severe they are, and whether they are clustered in a particular area.
Right now, Dr. Huang says the limited benefit of spraying just doesn’t outweigh the environmental impact. But he adds, health officials are doing something even better. Instead of a temporarily helpful air war, crews are deploying their weapons in the water by treating stagnant pools of water around the city to “Get the mosquitoes where they are breeding…get the larvae in those areas,” explains Dr. Huang. He says the larvacides being put into the water lasts 45 days. He argues that’s a much more effective and measured response than spraying. The airborne insecticide must touch mosquitoes to kill them; and Dr. Huang says the insects can build resistance if the spray is used too frequently.
Dr. Huang says the health department will send a team out and take action on a per-case basis if citizens call to report a particular mosquito hot spot.
You can either call 3-1-1 or the mosquito hotline at 512-978-0370. You can also send an email. The address is listed on the city’s vector control page: