Rainfall prompts locals to exercise caution for West Nile

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - West Nile has exploded in the state of Texas this year and officials say it is the worst it has been since 1999. Nationwide, there have been 26 deaths and 700 infections with West Nile virus. Texas accounts for 21 of those deaths and at least 550 cases of infection.

Higher temperatures and increased humidity allow mosquitoes to develop from an egg to an adult as fast as 5 days, compared to the original 7-10 days. Each female mosquito can lay 200-300 eggs at a time in standing water.

Although the South Plains is known to be dry, the recent rainfall has many locals worried that the crisis in Dallas will soon spread here. The City of Lubbock's Vector Control Coordinator, Glenn Heinrich said the equation seems simple.

"The less water, the less mosquitoes," said Heinrich.

But sometimes, even without massive amounts of rainfall, the risk for more mosquito encounters is still likely.

"With the playa lakes with the Ransom Canyon lake system, with swimming pools and bird baths, things like that, you're never really going to get rid of the mosquito problem," said Heinrich.

Throughout the past 72 hours, from Friday through Sunday, Morton received 2.1 inches of rain, Denver City saw 1.71 inches, Sundown had 1.37 inches, the Lubbock Airport reported 1.25 inches and Brownfield saw 0.67 inches.

Although this might not sound like much, Texas Tech University's Institute of Environmental and Human Health Associate Professor, Dr. Steve Presley, said that sometimes, a little water can go a long way.

"There's a species that just needs a hoof print of water, of muddy water and it can reproduce. So with these rains, these little scattered showers, it might just be enough to allow the mosquito population to boom," said Presley.

The main solution is to be proactive and aware about your surroundings.

Governor Rick Perry urges Texans to practice the 4 D's: use mosquito repellants that contain Deet, dress in light-colored, protective clothing when outdoors, avoid outside activity at dusk or dawn and be sure to drain all standing water.

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