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West Nile Virus mosquito samples spike in Harris County

Houston, TX – Nearly a month after the first positive sample of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a mosquito was reported this year, Harris County has seen a significant increase in positive samples. As of Tuesday evening, Harris County Public Health reported a total of 132 positive samples.

The positive samples have been collected from various locations across the county, including the City of Houston and extending to Tomball. Despite the surge in positive samples, no human cases have been confirmed in 2024.

Officials attribute the spike to recent heavy rains and high temperatures, conditions conducive to mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes, though present year-round, are most prevalent and active from June through October. Out of the 56 mosquito species in the area, only a few transmit diseases such as West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika.

West Nile Virus often presents mild symptoms, such as low-grade fever and headache, in most infected individuals. Severe symptoms can include high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, encephalitis, and in rare cases, death. Residents experiencing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

To combat the increase in mosquito activity, residents are urged to remember the “Three T’s” for mosquito control:

Tip: Remove standing water from containers like pet bowls, flowerpots, tires, and buckets. Change water in birdbaths every three to five days.

Toss: Discard debris, trash, and other unwanted items to eliminate hidden mosquito breeding spots. Clean clogged rain gutters and keep outdoor trash bins closed. Do not sweep lawn clippings or litter into storm drains.

Take Action: Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents as directed. Avoid using repellents on babies younger than 2 months or products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3 years. Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks when possible. Treat standing water with larvicides where it cannot be covered or removed. Ensure outdoor faucets are not leaking and use tight-fitting screens on doors and windows.

For more information on protecting yourself from mosquitoes and preventing West Nile Virus, visit Harris County Public Health’s website or contact their office.