The Texas Department of State Health Services has notified officials that West Nile virus has been detected in the city.
The agency made the determination through a mosquito-testing program in which the city participates.
City director of health services Crystal Davis cited the wet weather as a contributing factor.
“This area has received about 30 inches of rain so far and that has helped increase the population the city is experiencing,” she said. “Also, the flood mosquitoes that come with an increase in water are smart enough to lay eggs in low-lying areas, so even though the past several years have been dry those eggs can lie dormant for a few years and when the water comes they will hatch all at once.”
The city started its mosquito spraying measures in June prior to the notification but the spray can only be used if conditions are favorable for the mixture to have the maximum effect. High humidity levels caused by the rains have cancelled spray dates and high winds also are not favorable conditions.
Davis said once the state provides the species of mosquito the virus was found in, more accurate measures can be taken to control the population. Until then, she is asking residents to eliminate breeding grounds for the insects by making sure there is no standing water on their property.
“The city will take every measure possible to decrease the mosquito population and maintain a healthy environment for the residents, but we can’t do it alone,” Davis said.
Residents should eliminate standing water from their property and drain stagnant water from birdbaths, pet dishes, rain gutters, old tires, flowerpots, buckets, children’s toys and all other containers.
City Manager Steve Howerton says the situation will only get better with help from the community.
“The city will continue to use every possible method to help control the problem, but we can’t be successful without help from the community. If everyone did their part to make sure there is no standing water on their property for the mosquitoes to breed, it would help decrease the population and limit the number of bugs within the city,” he said.
For anyone with a stock pond on their property, Davis encourages adding minnows to the water.
“Minnows are great at decreasing the number of mosquitoes that hatch because they love to eat the larva that are floating in the water. Some of the ditches and culverts in the city actually have minnows in them and this has helped control breeding in those areas,” Davis said.
Ellis County is the seventh in the state to have positive mosquito test results, joining Dallas, Denton, Harris, Jefferson, Montgomery and Tarrant counties.
For more information on West Nile virus and what can be done to control the mosquito population, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services West Nile Virus hotline at (888)-883-9997 or visit the Web site at www.dshs.state.tx.us.
E-mail Candie at firstname.lastname@example.org