HOUSTON Health officials plan to conduct an aerial spray operation in portions of west Harris County, starting Wednesday evening through 4 a.m. Thursday, in a bid to combat mosquito-borne disease.
Recent surveillance findings show West Nile Virus activity has increased in the Houston area especially in parts of west Harris County.
In all, Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services said West Nile Virus has been confirmed in 121 mosquito samples. Of those samples, 40 percent came from the hot spot areas in the western part of the county, where officials plan to spray.
Harris County experienced very hot, dry months in May and June followed by a wet July. This type of weather is conducive for increasing the risk for transmission of mosquito borne diseases like West Nile Virus. As a result, clusters of disease activity have been detected prompting the need to implement the aerial treatment in the designated areas, Dr. Rudy Bueno, Director of HCPHES Mosquito Control Division, said. We have been finding it throughout the county, but this is one area that we can definitely say is a hot spot.
Bear Creek Park sits in the middle of that target area.
Cynthia Stewart, who was visiting the park with her 5-month-old daughter Aliyah on Tuesday, said she s actually allergic to the notorious, blood-sucking pests.
Walking among the puddles of stagnant water in the park, left over after a day of heavy rain, Stewart said she thought the aerial spray was a good idea.
If it s gonna help with these mosquitoes and us not having West Nile Virus, I m all for it. Definitely, she said.
During the spray operation, two planes will dispense Dibrom, an EPA-approved insecticide routinely used to fight mosquito-borne disease, over a 50,000-acre area.
While Dibrom is considered to be safe for the environment, health officials said some people may be sensitive to direct contact with the chemical.
HCPHES said residents in affected areas should remain indoors while the aerial treatment is being conducted.
In addition, health officials said all Houston-area residents should try to eliminate mosquito-breeding habitats on their properties.
Outside containers that can hold water like empty flower pots, tires and toys should be removed or emptied.
Bird baths and pet water bowls should be changed at least twice a week.
Officials said residents should also sweep up and properly dispose of lawn clippings, leaves and tree limbs, clean out gutters and make sure windows and doors have proper screening.
Residents can reduce the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes by wearing insect repellent while outdoors.
Officials said repellents should have the active ingredient DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.
Residents who must be outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, should try to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Health officials said July through September has historically been the peak timeframe for mosquito-borne disease transmissions to humans in Harris County.
This west Harris County operation will be the first aerial spraying this year. Officials said regular ground routes by spraying trucks will continue throughout the entire county.
Click here for a map of the areas that will be sprayed this week.