Disease has shown up as close as Corpus Christi

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

Jim Wells County's battle plan against the ever-increasing mosquito population this year includes public awareness, prevention and preparation for the worst, said county vector officials.

With several hundreds of miles of roads within Jim Wells County, County Vector Director Wally Alanis said truck spraying is not cost effective, and is not recommended by the state of Texas for county areas.

"At $320 an hour to spray, over an area the size of the county, it's not justifiable unless we have a major outbreak," Alanis said.

During a meeting of vector officials Wednesday morning, Alanis said the number one concern is ensuring the county has the proper equipment on hand necessary to run mosquito surveillance over the whole county.

Because of excessive rain in recent weeks, JWC is currently experiencing a major mosquito infestation, Alanis said.

Vector officials currently have larvaciding occurring in areas of standing water.

The county is testing in various areas ensuring and documenting areas so that if an outbreak of West Nile Virus does occur, there will be data in place to allow the state to intervene.

Although truck spraying is discouraged by the state, Alanis said, a West Nile outbreak could be followed by state intervention using aerial spraying to curtail mosquitoes spreading the disease.

Alanis said public awareness is important and people need to understand the mosquitoes that are out in the daytime are not the species of mosquitoes that carry the disease.

He said the mosquitoes that come out between dusk and dawn are the ones people should watch out for, because they are the ones that can carry the arbovirus that leads to West Nile.

"They bother me, too, but mosquitoes come with the water," Alanis said about the pests.

"Hopefully this year, we won't have the viruses that come with it."

He also said people need to take responsibility and do what they can in their area to limit mosquito breeding, including getting rid of standing water, where mosquitoes breed, on their property.

Last year, the majority of the state's attention went to areas on the Coastal Plains, in nearby Corpus Christi, where several West Nile mosquito carriers were detected.

JWC has been free of West Nile in recent years, but Alanis said he has vector employees testing in each precinct and will continue running mosquito surveillance throughout the county.