The diseased mosquitos were first found June 9 by the Harris County Public Health Mosquito Vector and Control Division. The specific location of the mosquitos was not announced, but they are within a geographical area south of Cypress Creek, north of FM 1960 and west of Hwy. 249. The area is now being treated to reduce the risk of human infection.
Residents are at risk of contracting West Nile virus mainly during summer months, and the virus spreads most commonly by mosquito bite. Around 80% of people infected will not develop illness, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Symptoms typically include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
Symptoms usually last a few days, and individuals tend to recover on their own, according to the DSHS. About 1 in 150 infected people develop a more severe form of the disease called West Nile neuroinvasive disease, which can affect the brain and spinal cord. In 2019, the state recorded 32 total cases in humans across in five counties, including Harris County. That data is provisional, and the total cases from 2019 may be higher. The state recorded 146 cases in humans in 2018, 11 of whom died.
In the June 10 release, officials shared tips for how residents can protect themselves that focused on keeping pools of water forming:
- Remove/empty any containers that can hold water such as tires, flowerpots and toys.
- Change water in birdbaths and pet water bowls every three to five days.
- Keep rain gutters free of debris.
- Make sure screens are in good condition.
- Do not feed the storm drains. Sweep up lawn clippings, leaves and tree limbs.
Residents were also advised to use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Insect repellents should not be used on babies younger than 2 months old, and products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol should not be used on children younger than 3 years old.
“We are fortunate to have one of the best mosquitos and vector control departments in the country protecting Houston/Harris County residents," HCPH Executive Director Umair Shah said in a statement. "For more than 50 years, MVCD has fought mosquito borne diseases. However, we can all play a part in preventing diseases transmitted by mosquitoes by taking preventative measures.”
More information can be found here.