Here have been over two dozen human cases of West Nile virus reported this season but those numbers pale in comparison to what we were seeing at this point last year.
A new study takes a look at the 2012 outbreak and gives researchers important clues for prevention.
Last year health officials in Texas launched a ground, and aerial, assault against West Nile virus.
After five years of relatively mild mosquito activity, 2012 struck the nation hard with more than 5,000 reported cases and nearly 300 deaths. Dallas County in Texas had the most cases.
Clay Jenkins, a Dallas County Judge says, “They refer to our area as an epidemic.”
Researchers have pored over data collected in Dallas last summer to look for patterns that could predict future outbreaks.
One thing they found is winter weather plays a large role in the summer mosquito population.
Kristy Murray, DVM, PhD at Baylor College of Medicine says, “If you don’t have a good freeze it’s going to, of course, set you up for more mosquitoes later.”
Keeping track of West Nile virus in mosquitoes can predict what’s likely to be transmitted to humans.
If there are lots of infected mosquitoes there will be more human cases so experts suggest spraying for the bugs sooner rather than later.
And, contrary to popular belief, our heavy rain could be helping by washing out mosquito breeding grounds. Just make sure to drain standing water in things like bird baths and flower pots.