DCHHS Defends Dallas County against West Nile Virus
West Nile virus
In a news conference held earlier today, health officials with Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) announced plans for the 2007 West Nile Virus Season. Mosquito season in Dallas County typically runs from May to October with peak activity in August. DCHHS is strengthening its efforts to detect, prevent and control the spread of West Nile virus and other mosquitoborne illnesses. A part of its efforts is a public education campaign "Dfend Against West Nile: Dress, Drain & use DEET" to inform the public about West Nile virus and to remind them of ways to protect themselves and their families.
"DCHHS is getting the word out early about the dangers of West Nile virus," DCHHS Director Zachary
Thompson said. "Through our public education and marketing campaign we are reaching out to areas schools, colleges, universities, day care centers, parks, recreation centers, libraries, lakes, lawn and garden centers and other outdoor venues to get the word out to defend against West Nile." To further enhance its public education efforts, DCHHS will produce and distribute a weekly publication, the West Nile Watch, which will contain information on the locations of infected mosquito pools and mitigation efforts in the county. The publication will be available for downloading from the DCHHS website at www.dallascounty.org
"I want to commend DCHHS for being one of the first agencies in Texas to launch its 2007 West Nile virus prevention campaign," said Dallas County Comissioner John Wiley Price, who also chairs the Dallas County Public Health Advisory Committee. "DCHHS is out on the forefront of this issue, educating and preparing the public against West Nile disease," Commissioner Price concluded.
DCHHS continues to work with its municipal partners on additional strategies to protect Dallas County residents from mosquitoborne illnesses. DCHHS West Nile prevention activities include surveillance, source reduction, larvaciding (killing mosquito larvae or wigglers), adulticiding (spraying for adult mosquitoes), and public education. Dallas County contacted the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to request additional surveillance equipment to strengthen the county's mosquito and WNV detection program. As a result, DCHHS has received gravid traps to collect mosquitoes for early detection of West Nile Virus and GPS units to record trap locations. This equipment will be distributed to municipalities to enhance mosquito surveillance throughout the county.
"The cornerstone to all mosquitoborne diseases control is mosquito surveillance," said DCHHS Entomologist/Vector Control Supervisor, Scott Sawlis. "In 2006, we saw an early season increase in mosquito populations and infection rates of mosquitoes. This paralleled subsequent human cases. Our goal is early detection of mosquito infections so we may implement control measures sooner in order to prevent and reduce the number of human cases," Sawlis continued.
"The most effective way to reduce any mosquitoborne disease like West Nile is prevention," said Dr. John Carlo, DCHHS Medical Director. "The best way to avoid West Nile infection is to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long, loosefitting, lightcolored clothing when outside at dusk and dawn." Studies have shown that the majority of people who contracted the more serious form of West Nile virus did not use insect repellent. In 2006, Dallas County reported 101 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus and four deaths. In 2005, Dallas County had 43 confirmed human cases of West Nile with one death.
In 2004, DCHHS reported a total of 16 human West Nile cases (6 with West Nile fever and 10 with neuroinvasive West Nile) with no deaths. In 2003, Dallas County had a total of 54 human West Nile cases with 4 deaths. In 2002, the first year the virus was reported in Dallas County, there were 27 human cases with 3 deaths. As in previous years, public education and personal protection is vital in protecting the public from the disease. DCHHS Medical Director Dr. John Carlo urges the public to defend yourself against West Nile virus: