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Four North Texas county health departments are melding their planning, research, information and efforts to make a collective impact on this year’s West Nile virus season.

Similarities are reflected in Dallas and Tarrant counties’ plans to trap and test mosquitoes earlier than they did in 2012, to add more staff members, to conduct year-round trapping and testing and a request to their respective Commissioners Courts for additional funding.

“Our initial meetings and discussions led us to the consensus that shifting the focus to the emergence of positive mosquitoes as an early indicator of West Nile virus activity would be a key first step,” said Tarrant County Public Health Director Dr. Lou Brewer. “This step will help reduce the mosquito population and hopefully reduce the number of human cases.”

“Increased vigilance by all of us will help identify and eliminate mosquito breeding locations throughout the area and also give us an edge in our collective battle against West Nile,” said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson.

“A major component of our unified approach will be the residents in each county,” said Dr. Bing Burton, Denton County’s Health Director. “We need their help in eliminating and reducing mosquito breeding areas in and around their homes.”

Burton also noted that this year would be the first time that Denton County has conducted mosquito surveillance.

“Knowing that people are crossing county boundaries daily makes it more important for us to be strategic in our actions,” said Collin County Health Care Services Director Candy Blair.

“This approach equals a combination of expertise and data collection that can only yield positives for the entire region,” said Dr. James Zoretic, Regional Director of Texas Department of State Health Service Regions 2/3. “Moving forward, it will provide the needed continuity of information to identify the successes as well as the areas that need improvement.”

All four counties will echo the prevention messages, which if followed, can help reduce human cases and reduce the opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.

Story courtesy of Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant county health departments