The Texas Department of State Health Services has scheduled a news conference to educate the public about West Nile virus at 2 p.m. today in Hudnall Auditorium on the UT Health Northeast campus, at the corner of U.S. Highway 271 and Texas Highway 155.
State and local public health officials will provide information about the disease, efforts to prevent it and mosquito control. The event is open to the public and will include question-and-answer sessions.
Texas recently confirmed its first case of West Nile this season, an adult male from Anderson County. Last year, Texas reported 1,868 human cases of West Nile, including 89 deaths.
The Northeast Texas Public Health District, the Angelina County and Cities Health District, and the Texas A&M University Department of Entomology are co-sponsoring the event along with DSHS.
Information about the mosquito that carries West Nile virus will be presented by Gabriel Hamer, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Hamer specializes in entomology, the study of insects.
The intensity of West Nile virus activity in Texas fluctuates from year to year and depends on a variety of factors: the weather, the numbers of birds and mosquitoes that maintain and spread the virus and human behavior. DSHS is urging people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting the virus:
Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters, and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread the virus breed in stagnant water.
Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.