Last year, Texas was at the epicenter of what turned out to be the worst outbreak of West Nile virus since the disease first appeared in the United States in 1999. Of the 5,387 cases of West Nile — with 243 deaths — reported in 2012, one-third occurred in Texas. Of the cases reported in Texas, half were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In Burleson, three human cases were reported and five mosquito traps tested positive.
“It was incredible,” Lisa Duello, director of neighborhood services, told Burleson City Council on Monday night. “Even the scientists don’t really know what went on last year” to lead to such an extensive West Nile outbreak.
Duello said that last year the city was “in kind of a reactive mode” when it came to dealing with the swarms of mosquitoes that carry West Nile. This year, she said, her department is ready to move ahead with a more proactive approach.
“We had been setting traps on an ad hoc basis as we received complaints,” Duello said, but as the situation worsened, the city was forced to spend more than $11,000 in emergency funds to spray twice for adult mosquitoes.
Each spray was conducted over three consecutive nights, the first triggered by human cases being reported within close proximity of each other, and the second triggered by a positive trap test.
Duello said that over a three-and-a-half-week period, 27 city employees were involved in battling the mosquitoes, and the city sprayed about 47 miles of streets covering 5,200 addresses.
This year, Duello said, she recommends that the city start out by following guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and the Tarrant County health department. The guidelines, she said, call for increased surveillance and quicker reaction to potential trouble areas.