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With increased numbers of the West Nile Virus being reported, the city of Waxahachie will be conducting spraying operations beginning Monday, Aug. 20.

Operations are expected to continue through Sept. 10.

“The best way to treat adult populations of mosquitos is to get them before they become adults using larvicide and barrier treatments. The third option is to conduct spraying,” said Waxahachie Director of Environmental Health Sonny Wilson.

“We haven’t done that since 2007. The reason why is because last year we did not have many complaints,” Wilson added. “We were in a drought season and we didn’t really have the outbreak that we had this year.”

The West Nile Virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other animals. People and animals can contract the disease from the bite on an infected mosquito. The virus can cause serious injury or even death.

There are two forms of the virus. The first is called West Nile Fever. Symptoms from this milder form of the virus can include fever, headache, muscle, bone aches, drowsiness and nausea.  

West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease is the more sever version. It includes symptoms such as headache, fever, stiff neck, visual problems, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss and seizures. Symptoms of West Nile will usually appear within 2-15 days after exposure. If signs are present contact a physician.

Wilson said there have been eight cases of West Nile virus reported in Ellis County along with one confirmed death. The Texas Department of State Health Services have reported 137 cases of West Nile Fever in 21 counties, 214 cases of West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease in 27 counties and 12 fatalities. Only two fatalities were reported in 2011.  

“We have a special ultra light spray rig that is motorized and gas powered. We have it mounted on a trailer and we pull it with one of our city trucks. It has a remote control switch that we keep in the truck. So when we want to spray all we have to do is to hit a button and its starts the spraying process. We drive about 10-15 mph down the streets when we have it running,” Wilson said. “ The reason we are doing this late at night is two fold. The adult mosquitoes are more active at night. We are doing it late at night because people are less active outside. When we are doing our spraying if we see human activity ahead of us we will turn it off and stop and let them get out of the way before we continue on.”

Wilson said if the wind is blowing more then 10 mph or it is raining then the spraying will be rescheduled.

The city is divided up into five areas for spraying operations. Each area will be sprayed twice with six-10 days in between each spraying. Before spraying takes place the city has to notify residents 10 days prior. Residents are encourages to say indoors, keep pets inside and cover birdbaths, fish or ponds.

Wilson said the insecticide is designed for adult mosquitoes but it can affect other insects such has honeybees. If residents do have honeybees that they raise in their backyard it is recommended that they be covered, Wilson said.  Spraying will eliminate a lot of the adult mosquito population but will not kill every mosquito.

If residents are taking part in activities outside it is recommended that they wear a repellent containing DEET and spray it on all exposed skin. Also if possible wear long sleeves and pants. Empty any containers outside such as flowerpots or buckets that might contain water. This will help eliminate places where mosquitoes breed. It is recommended that people stay inside during dusk and dawn, which is when mosquitoes are most active.

If residents don’t want their area sprayed they can contact the department of environmental health or if they need more information they can contact city hall at 972-937-7330.

Follow Andrew on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.