Williamson Co. fights back against West Nile virus


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE


Posted on July 18, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 6:31 PM

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- The rain showers may have ended, but the threat of West Nile virus is just getting started. Rain, while a welcome sight in Central Texas, is also the catalyst for mosquito growth.

“It doesn't take a lot of water for the mosquitoes to breed, so this is what our concern is right now,” said Deborah Marlow with Williamson County’s Environmental Health Services.

Last year, West Nile killed one person in the county and sent 12 more to the hospital, so now health officials are fighting back.

Since June the county has been collecting the persistent pests in traps all over Georgetown. They set the trap using a battery, which sucks up the mosquitoes into the net above, using the bait water down below. The mosquitoes that accumulate in the traps are then sent to a lab in Austin.

So far this year, none have tested positive for the West Nile virus. However, mosquito season is about to peak in Texas.

The bats in Williamson County that feed on mosquitoes help a little, according to Marlow, but “I don't think they help as much as people think they do,” she said.

That is why they're trapping and testing before the bites get dangerous, using larvicide disks in drainage ponds to kill mosquito larvae.

Last year 89 people died from West Nile in Texas. This year two cases have already been confirmed in North Texas.

Williamson County officials ask that homeowners check for standing water immediately and often, especially after the rain this week.

Everyone can avoid mosquito bites by following the four D’s:  

  • Dawn and Dusk are the times to try to stay indoors since those are times mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
  • Drain standing water in flower pots, pet dishes, or clogged gutters so mosquitos don’t have a place to breed.
  • DEET is an effective bug spray ingredient to apply to clothing.

For more information on the mosquito control program in Georgetown, visit the Williamson County and Cities Health District website. For more information on West Nile virus and the response in Texas, go to the Texas Department of State Health Services website.