West Nile Virus in birds, but County doesn’t spray


EAST HARRIS COUNTY– Despite the confirmation of two cases of West Nile Virus in Harris County, officials with the health department’s mosquito control division say that they have no plans to begin aerial spraying.

In early May a bluebird with the mosquito-borne illness was found in west Harris County. Then, on May 21, a grackle was found in Hermann Park which also had West Nile.

Health Department spokesperson Sandy Kachur said that the only way the department would authorize aerial spraying for mosquitoes would be if a large concentration of Culex mosquitoes were found. Since this has not occurred, she said, the county will continue to perform ground spraying. Even if a large concentration was found, she added, the county would likely resort to aerial spraying if the area was not accessible by road.

Kachur said that the county is continuing to conduct tests on birds. Because of the number of diseases which birds can transmit residents are asked not to come in direct with birds but to contact the health department at 713-440-4800 to have the dead bird removed for testing.

Symptoms of WNV usually show up between five and 15 days after exposure and include low grade fever, headache, and swollen lymph glands. More advanced symptoms include high fever, stiff neck and muscle weakness. In the most extreme circumstances, a coma and death can occur.

Persons of 50 years of age and those with a weakened or compromised immune system are most susceptible to the virus.

The health department is asking that people take precautions against mosquitoes by limiting times outdoor during dawn and dusk, when the mosquitoes are most active, removing standing water which can act as a breeding ground and using an outdoor insect repellent.