The Richardson Health Department plans to ground spray three separate areas beginning this Sunday, weather permitting, in order to help prevent the spread of the West Nile virus. The decision to spray comes after City Health Department workers were notified late yesterday that four traps located in the three subject locations returned mosquitoes that tested positive for the disease.

Richardson began its West Nile virus monitoring program this month, which is the earliest it has ever begun testing for signs of the virus. Typically, the city begins its monitoring program in May, but the Richardson City Council approved increased surveillance this year due to the heightened incidence of West Nile virus cases experienced in the Metroplex in 2012.

“Due to last year’s unprecedented season, we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to monitor for the presence of West Nile virus,” said Richardson Health Department Director Bill Alsup. “In addition to increased surveillance, we’re also increasing our level of mosquito abatement and response to the presence of the virus. The combination of our efforts should help to lessen the level of exposure of West Nile virus to our residents, but we urge people to be aware that, even though it’s not summer, mosquitoes are already present and it’s imperative to take measures to take precautions from being bitten.”

Richardson is working in conjunction with other cities and health agencies in the Metroplex to mitigate the spread of West Nile virus. Additional measures being taken in Richardson include:

  • - Earlier monitoring of mosquito populations using traps strategically placed in the city;
  • - Residential pool abatement, to reduce areas where mosquitoes can breed;
  • - Surveillance and treatment of storm drain system;
  • - Closer collaboration among departments to reduce areas where water can become stagnant;
  • - Deploying fish that can eat mosquito larvae, and increasing the areas where larvicide is used;
  • - Improving the adulticide response by working with a private contractor that can provide additional ground spraying capacity;
  • - Collaborating more closely with regional partners to provide an improved response.

Spraying Locations

Weather permitting, spraying will occur according to the following schedule:

Sunday, April 14 and Monday, April 15*

Location 1**

  • - W. Campbell Rd. south to W. Arapaho Rd.; Coit Rd. east to Central Expressway (US75).

Location 2**

  • - E. Lookout Dr. south to Apollo Rd.; Plano Rd. east to Jupiter Rd.

Location 3**

  • - President George Bush Turnpike east to Breckinridge Park, and between the northern and southern borders of the city.

*As part of plans to increase in the response to incidents of finding the West Nile virus in people and mosquito traps, targeted neighborhoods are sprayed twice.

**Spraying events begin at 9 p.m. and will end by 4 a.m.

If wind speeds of greater than 10 miles per hour are sustained, if it is raining, or if temperatures are forecast to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then Health Department staff may postpone spraying until weather conditions are more favorable.

How Spraying Locations Are Chosen

The Richardson Health Department schedules mosquito spraying based on positive findings of West Nile virus in mosquito traps placed around the city or if a human case is confirmed. Once located, the area around the positive finding is targeted for spraying in an attempt to help limit the spread of the disease. In an effort to decrease the incidents of finding the West Nile virus in people and mosquito traps, targeted neighborhoods are being sprayed twice as part of a comprehensive plan implemented in early 2013 to help deter the spread of the disease. However, spraying is only a measure to help limit exposure, and health workers urge people to maintain vigilance in protecting themselves when going outside.

When Spraying Occurs

Richardson schedules spraying events during overnight hours to limit exposure to people who may wish to avoid contact with the pesticide used to control mosquito populations. Spraying events begin at 9 p.m. and will end by 4 a.m. In order to minimize human exposure, the Health Department typically does not schedule spraying events on Friday or Saturday; however, an increase in findings of West Nile virus may cause the Richardson Health Department to spray on weekends as needed.

Spraying Is One Part Of The Protection Plan

Spraying to control the population of mosquitoes and the spread of the West Nile virus is a last resort, and is part of a comprehensive plan the Richardson Health Department follows to control the mosquito population. Other activities include: continuous monitoring of mosquito test pool results, implementation of a residential pool abatement program to reduce areas where mosquitoes can breed, surveillance and treatment of storm drains, use of larvicide and mosquito eating fish along creeks and other stagnant bodies of water to prevent mosquito eggs from developing into adults, monitoring and notification in neighborhoods where potential mosquito breeding areas are discovered, closer collaboration with regional health departments, and public education efforts through mass communications channels.

How To Protect Yourself

To protect from mosquito bites, people are asked to follow the Four D’s of protection:

  • · DRAIN standing water around the home,
  • · Use insect repellent containing DEET,
  • · Avoid being outdoors at DUSK and DAWN when mosquitoes are most active,
  • · And DRESS to protect yourself with long sleeves and pants to reduce skin exposure.

More On The West Nile Virus

The West Nile virus is transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito that's already carrying the virus, but not all mosquitoes are capable of carrying or transmitting the disease. In North Texas, the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito is greatest from July to October. Not everyone who gets bitten by an infected mosquito will get the virus, and it's rare for people to become very sick if they do develop symptoms from the disease.

Symptoms of West Nile virus vary depending upon the person who becomes infected. People who do develop symptoms usually suffer from mild "flu-like" illness. Rarely, symptoms may require medical care or hospitalization. The people who are most susceptible to the disease are the very young, the very old and those with weakened immune systems.

Story courtesy of the City of Richardson

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