Tech researchers to test mosquitoes for West Nile

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 8/21/2012 9:49 pm

The number of West Nile cases across the state makes you wonder how it has not hit Lubbock.

Texas is dealing with almost 600 cases and 26 deaths. Compared to 2011, there were 27 cases statewide, and only two deaths.

Texas Tech Graduate Student, Anna Gibson said, "We have increased our traps between seven and 10 just for us," she said. We are also testing for the city, which they have 27 traps around the county."

The contraption looks like a typical ice bucket, but it is used to trap the inevitable summer mosquitoes to see if they carry West Nile.

"We put the traps out in the evening, come back the next morning grab the net and bring them back to the lab and test them under the microscope," Gibson said.

The recipe for mosquitoes to multiply is simple: warmer temps, a good ole' West Texas downpour, which leaves behind the mosquito "nesting ground", standing water.

"We are creating a lot of mosquito habitats," she said. So in about 7-14 days we will start seeing a big increase in mosquito numbers."

However, the city is already carrying out its game plan.

Glenn Heinrich with City of Lubbock Vector Control said, "We are very proactive. We are treating the playa lakes, and all of the standing water with a chemical to control the larva before they become adults."

Tech Environmental Professor Dr. Steve Presley said, "You are seeing more news reports with cases in Dallas area, they are going as hard as they can to try to spray." he said. There is a lot of concern, in this area people need to be aware, but not panic."

So preventing the virus means preventing a mosquito bite. The most effective defense is to remember the 4 D's:

  • Dress in long sleeve,
  • Avoid being outside between dawn and dusk
  • Drain any standing water around your property
  • Use an mosquito repellent containing deet

The South Plains has only seen one report of West Nile this year.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Dallas and Tarrant counties lead the rest with the most reported human West Nile cases. Dallas has 185, Tarrant county 155 reported cases.

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