Tarrant County Public Health officials have confirmed the first mosquito sample of the season to test positive for the West Nile virus.
No human cases have been reported, officials said.
The sample was collected Thursday in the 76118 ZIP code in Richland Hills, Tarrant County Public Health officials said.
Last year, officials reported the first positive mosquito sample June 25.
Since seasonal surveillance began April 1, 1,043 samples have been tested at the North Texas Regional Laboratory.
Officials remind residents to remove standing water from their property, to use repellent, and to wear long pants and long sleeves whenever possible.
“The stagnated water is the water that you have to worry about,” said Vinny Taneja, director of Tarrant County Public Health. “And this mosquito, the one that carries the West Nile virus, will only travel a few hundred feet from where they breed.”
Right now, standing water is being flushed out by all the rain, Taneja said. But mosquitoes need only two or three days to breed, so a short break in the stormy weather and some higher temperatures could reveal a multitude of mosquito breeding areas, he said.
Fill low-lying areas in your yard with dirt, change out the water in birdbaths and empty water from old tires, Taneja said. Residents who store rainwater should follow proper techniques, he said.
“These mosquitoes will even breed in the handful of water that can collect in a rotted tree stump,” Taneja said. “Those need to be filled with dirt.”
The Culex mosquito is typically active at dusk and dawn. But the Tiger mosquito is active all day and has transmitted the Chikungunya virus in other countries, Taneja said.
Texas and some other states have documented imported Chikungunya cases, and public health officials are testing to determine whether mosquitoes in this area have acquired the virus, Taneja said.
“So don’t let any mosquitoes bite you,” Taneja said.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752