Communities are key to preventing West Nile

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Education and community involvement are the key as Colleyville, Grapevine and Southlake prepare their West Nile prevention plans, city officials say.

The three cities will finalize their plans in upcoming city council meetings.

Colleyville city engineer Jeremy Hutt said the city can test and use larvicide in public areas, but citizens need to be aware of possible breeding grounds on their property.

“No matter what we do on this side of the fence, it doesn’t help,” he said. “It has to be an effort on everyone’s part.”

In a recent Colleyville City Council meeting, members stressed an ongoing need to educate the community, especially those who don’t know a problem can start in their own back yard.

“A thimble of water can breed hundreds of mosquitoes a week,” Hutt said.

It’s that idea that private backyards can be just as dangerous that has the cities focusing on keeping the community educated.

Kyle Taylor, Southlake’s assistant to the director of emergency management, said public education and outreach is a major branch of the city’s West Nile prevention plan.

He asked residents to, “help us as a city, help them as a community.”

The city has provided information at recent events and will continue to educate those most vulnerable to the virus, including children and senior citizens.

The Southlake website has a page dedicated to West Nile information. Residents can see the results of the latest weekly testing and access other information.

One handout the city has developed features an illustration of a backyard with common items that house stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed, such as bird baths, kids toys and gutters.

Jennifer Hibbs, Grapevine assistant city manager, said the city is educating the community by putting up signs in public parks, putting notices in city publications and providing information at the senior center and schools.

“The city has developed a good relationship with the school district,” she said.

Part of keeping residents educated is making sure they’re informed.

Colleyville plans to introduce a new tiered-risk system that will allow the community to understand the city’s state.

The three-tiered system features a “low” level, which Hutt said would be year round. In this level the city is monitoring test sites. If a site yields a positive result the city will be at a “medium” level, and if there’s a human case it will be raised to “high,” which will enable the city to engage in ground fogging.

Colleyville will use its code red notification system to alert residents if there’s a concern in their area.

Southlake will introduce a similar five-tier system that increases based on mosquito activity and West Nile Virus presence in animals and humans.

In addition to individual plans, each city is working closely with Tarrant County and neighboring cities.

Southlake spokeswoman Pilar Schank said communicating with the county and other cities is very important.

“The transmission of this virus doesn’t recognize city boundaries,” she said. “This plan recognizes that.”

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dussssstin

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