West Nile case confirmed in The Woodlands

A case of West Nile Virus in The Woodlands has been confirmed today by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The virus was discovered through a sample of mosquitoes from a "surveillance site" in The Woodlands Township, according to a release issued by the township.

Lynn Aldrich, manager of environmental services for the township, said specific locations of where the sample was drawn from are not announced.

"We don't want people to think it's not in [their] neighborhood," Aldrich said. "Just because we don't catch mosquitoes in your neighborhood doesn't mean they're not there. We want everybody to take appropriate precautions."

She also said announcement of specific areas are not mandated by the Attorney General.

The township and Montgomery County Mosquito Abatement team have initiated a response recommended by the TDSHS, which includes larviciding, spraying of select storm drains and targeting street spraying.

According to the township, no reports of human illnesses have been reported. The township is urging residents to protect themselves and families from mosquito bites.

The TDSHS reports that the risk of contracting the West Nile Virus is "very low."

"Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Even if the mosquito is infected, less than 1 percent of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill," the TDSHS reports on its website. "The chances you will become severely ill from any one mosquito bite are extremely small."

The township recommends "eliminating all sources of standing water" and to avoid over-watering.

Aldrich said those who water their lawns too much run the risk of having excess water run off their lawns that feeds stagnant puddles.

"There has not been enough washing rain storms to wash away those puddles," she said.

Those puddles can form in storm drains, French drains, water meter boxes, bird baths, plant saucers and low areas and create breeding sites for mosquitoes, Aldrich said.

Standing water may be treated with biological larvicide that contains Bti, or Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis.

According to the TDSHS, Montgomery County is the fourth county in Texas to have a confirmed case of West Nile Virus in 2012. In 2011, there were 672 cases of West Nile Virus confirmed in Texas.