Is West Nile still a threat to East Texans? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Is West Nile still a threat to East Texans?


Not too long ago, East Texas faced the most serious West Nile outbreak in history. But is it over just yet?

While the number of reported cases has been decreasing, that doesn't mean the threat is going away anytime soon.

"We're going to treat that lagoon of water, if you will, even though eventually it's going soak in and evaporate out," Bob Gardner said while treating stagnant water in the City of Tyler Friday.

Gardner works in the animal control department of the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

He is still diligently putting out bricks that are designed stop mosquito larva from turning into full grown pests.

"I know this water has been here for well over a week, and I know that'll stagnate," Gardner said.

The bricks are good for up to 120 days, which is much longer than the water will sit in the ditch Gardner treated Friday. He said if water gathers there again, and the bricks have not fully dissolved, they'll reactivate and get back to work fighting mosquitoes.

"Everyone thinks that because it gets cool, then the mosquitoes are gone. When the truth of the matter is, they're just laying there waiting for a nice warm afternoon to so they can cook up again," said Gardner.

He said a day just like Friday, a beautiful 84 degrees, is the perfect temperature for larva to harvest into adult mosquitoes. But, he adds, those aren't the only ones to worry about.

"You have to remember that it's going to come back next year, so the number of mosquitoes that we can reduce this year will impact the numbers next year," said Blake Bextine, UT Tyler Associate Professor of Biology.

Bextine said it's efforts, like the ones Gardner continues to put forth, that have helped decrease the number of West Nile cases reported in the fall.

However, both Bextine and Gardner agree, we're not out of the woods just yet.

"The amount of water in a bottled water cap, a tablespoon of water, can harvest out 100 mosquitoes," said Gardner.

He said a majority of mosquito breeding grounds are still standing right in your own backyard.
Gardner said it's important for East Texans to continue emptying water out of trash cans, gutters, flower pots, wheel-barrows and toys left outdoors. He added even tarps that have collected water could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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