City on Alert for West Nile Virus - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/17/03

City on Alert for West Nile Virus

The city's vector control unit is working day and night to keep you safe from the West Nile threat, before it becomes a problem. Right now the mosquitos are very active after recent rains dozens of complaints are coming in from residents about skyrocketing mosquito numbers.

"We receive between 80 and 100 calls yesterday and it will probably be the same throughout the week," says Joe Vargas, of the City of Lubbock Vector Control.

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But Vargas says his crew has a plan of attack. They've set 25 traps throughout the county and constantly search area lakes for hatching larva. "That'll indicate when we're gonna spray and what kind of mosquitos we're dealing with."

Vector control continues to stay on the forefront of mosquito control. Soon, they'll have global position systems or GPS units in each truck, helping them pinpoint West Nile carrying mosquitos. "It'll help us track down the areas, the playa lakes, whatever we can map out," says Vargas.

All mosquitos caught,go to an Entomologist. Wayne Gellido, separates and determines within hours whether or not a West Nile carrying mosquito is in our area. "It's important because it will tell us whether the species are in the area and we don't want them to cause a health problem like West Nile," says Gellido.

Last year seven horses in Lubbock County died from West Nile virus. Veterinarian Dr. Mart Brillhart says that was enough to make concerned horse owners take a proactive approach to protecting their livestock this year. So far he's vaccinated nearly 500 horses and tells other owners its better to be safe than sorry.

"The best way to fight it is to vaccinate. With recent rains there's a lot of mosquitos now we don't know for sure how many incidents there's gonna be this year, how many cases," says Brillhart.

But in case West Nile shows up here Joe Vargas says, "We're ready, we're ready we have all our machines and chemicals to do the areas we need to."

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