Fort Worth looks to head off West Nile virus

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Heading into mosquito season, the city is already testing for West Nile virus and calling on residents to help prevent the spread of the sometimes lethal virus.

Mosquito traps have been placed at all fire stations and the insects caught in them are being tested, Brandon Bennett, the city's code compliance director, told City Council members Tuesday.

Also, the city has contracted with the University of North Texas Health Science Center to run mosquito surveillance, saving the city money and yielding better data, Bennett said.

Based on results of mosquito testing, the city "may start [ground] spraying in the middle of July," Bennett said.

Last year's West Nile outbreak was the worst in U.S. history. Tarrant County recorded 280 virus cases and 11 deaths. Fort Worth had 81 cases and four deaths.

Residents can work with neighbors to drain small pools of standing water that become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, Bennett said.

"Working with your neighbors five homes in either direction is more important than anything else you can do," Bennett said.

If larger standing pools can't be drained, residents should treat them with larvicide, Bennett said.

The carriers of the virus, mosquitoes of the genus Culex -- commonly known as the southern house mosquito -- live high in trees and are typically most active at dusk and dawn.

They have a short lifespan and typically breed, roost and bite in small areas.

Seventy percent of West Nile victims nationally weren't wearing repellent, another easy protective measure residents can take, Bennett said.

The city has no plans for aerial spraying, but administrators will consult the City Council if Tarrant County public health authorities recommend it, Bennett said.

In other business, the council approved a one-time permission for the sale of beer and wine for a fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. May 23 at the Forest Park pool.

The event is for small capital improvements at the pool and scholarships for swim lessons at Forest Park and the new Marine Park Pool in north Fort Worth.

Both pools are scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend.

Admission to the fundraiser is $25.

Also, the council put off for 90 days discussion of restricting gas compressor stations, an issue that has surfaced in east Fort Worth.

Scott Nishimura


Twitter @JScottNishimura

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