HOUSTON — A mosquito found near downtown tested positive for West Nile virus, the Harris County Public Health Department announced this morning.
The mosquito tested positive in the 77007 zip code, which spans south of the Katy Freeway from Shepherd Drive to I-45, just east of Memorial Park.
It’s the first positive test for West Nile in Harris County this year.
Elizabeth Perez with the Harris County Public Health said this won’t be the first positive test this season.
“It’s prime season. It’s wet, humid, hot and a time when people are out for the summer,” Perez said. “This is a prime opportunity for mosquitoes to breed and for people to come in contact with mosquitoes.”
West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, body aches and joint pain, fever and diarrhea. The CDC notes that most people infected won’t develop symptoms.
The department keeps an active list of areas where mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile and other diseases on its website and mobile app regularly.
Perez said there haven't been any positive tests for humans so far, but people should be diligent in protecting themselves and helping control the mosquito population. That includes wearing EPA-approved insect repellent and dumping standing water that can serve as breeding grounds.
“This has got to be a community approach,” Perez said. “We can do our part, but people have to do their part around their homes.”
To prevent contracting the disease, Harris County Public Health officials recommend:
- When outdoors, use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone Follow product instructions.
- If possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Remove/empty containers that can hold water such as tires, flowerpots and toys.
- Change water in birdbaths and pet water bowls every 3 to 5 days.
- Keep rain gutters free of debris.
- Make sure door or window screens are in good condition.
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