The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed one case of West Nile Virus in the state this year. But after last year’s record West Nile outbreak, state and local officials are already working to slow the spread of the mosquito-borne disease.
In 2012 in Texas officials reported 1,024 cases of West Nile fever and another 844 cases of the more serious form of the virus, neuroinvasive West Nile disease, confirmed by the DSHS. Of those cases, 89 were fatal.
Johnson County saw seven confirmed cases of West Nile fever, and six cases of neuroinvasive West Nile in 2012.
The only confirmed case of West Nile in a human in 2013 —a neuroinvasive case — was reported in Anderson County. But mosquitoes positive for the West Nile virus have been found in Collin, Denton, Dallas and Brazoria counties, and one case of West Nile in a horse has been confirmed in Grimes County.
Johnson County’s approach to combating West Nile, Emergency Management Coordinator Jamie Moore said is to focus on public education.
“We can’t spray the whole county. That just isn’t feasible,” Moore said. “But what we can do is make sure that people know what to do to avoid getting West Nile.”
He said that last year, as the number of West Nile infections steadily grew, the Centers for Disease Control handed out grants to help fund prevention efforts. Johnson County used some of its grant money to buy a stockpile of “mosquito dunks” to distribute to residents to help keep the insects from breeding in standing water.
This year, however, since there’s been no spike in West Nile infections, there is no grant money. And that means the county has no free mosquito dunks.
Moore said officials have focused in recent weeks on responding to the May 15 tornadoes that damaged parts of Johnson County.