More than three weeks after three Port Arthur mosquitoes tested positive for the West Nile virus, Jefferson County Mosquito Control says no more evidence of the disease has turned up.
A pool of mosquitoes from the Grannis Avenue and Fifth Street area of Port Arthur was sent to Austin on June 27 for West Nile testing, according to Kevin Sexton, director of Jefferson County Mosquito Control.
“We do regular testing at specific sites throughout the incorporated areas of the county,” Sexton said. “Our entomologist boxes up (the mosquitoes) and sends them to Austin to have them tested by the Texas Department of Health. The amount of mosquitoes in a pool that is sent usually varies.”
Though three of the mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile, according to Sexton, no more mosquitoes have been found with the virus. Mosquito Control is taking the issue seriously, however, and is implementing combative action.
“We hit the area pretty hard with the King Air, (a plane that sprays for mosquitoes), and with our trucks the week of July 4, and we sprayed again on July 17,” Sexton said.
Sexton said that Southeast Texans themselves should implement protective measures when going outside.
“People should be a little more vigilant and take a little more precaution, especially when they go out,” said Sexton.
Sexton suggested Southeast Texans, especially the elderly and children, use a good DEET repellant and wear long sleeves and long pants. He also suggested that if citizens don’t use air conditioning, to make sure their screens don’t have holes in them, make sure there is no standing water in their yards, flush out their bird baths, and rinse out their dog dishes, replacing the water every four days.
“It takes about five days, roughly, for a mosquito to go through its cycle and for the adults to come out,” Sexton said. “If people keep areas like bird baths and pet dishes flushed out, mosquitoes won’t breed in them.”
The most susceptible to West Nile, according to Sexton, are children and the elderly.
“Generally they have a weaker immune system,” he said. “Also, if anyone has any type of illness that has already weakened their immune system, I would really recommend all these people to stay indoors (during the evening) if they can. But if they have to get out, wear long sleeves, long pants and a good repellent.”
Sexton said the mosquitoes that carry West Nile come out at dusk and are not out during the day.
“During the daytime, if people get bit they should be OK because it is not by these particular mosquitoes,” he said. “This is a specific mosquito (the genus Culex) that carries the virus. It’s kind of like a little vampire because it rests during the day. The mosquito has to bite an infected bird first and then bite a human with a weakened immune system for the virus to take its course. A lot of people may have been bit by this type of mosquito and never have even shown a symptom of West Nile because (they) have already built up an immunity to it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of West Nile include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness and paralysis, and approximately 1 in 150 persons will develop a severe form of the disease.“It’s really hard to contract West Nile,” Sexton said.
Sexton said the finding shouldn’t alarm Southeast Texans, and the testing is standard procedure.