Increased risk for West Nile Virus in Lubbock, larger mosquito population

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 8:49 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - After some much-needed rain, the mosquito population has increased in Lubbock. This leads to a greater risk of those insects carrying the West Nile Virus.

“Whenever we get standing water or an increase in the volume of those Playa Lakes, we usually start seeing an increase in the mosquito population a week to two weeks later,” Director of Public Health, Katherine Wells, said.

Not only are mosquitoes a pest, but they can also carry a variety of diseases that could be deadly.

“The one that we’re most concerned about here in the Lubbock area and on the South Plains is West Nile Virus,” Wells said.

That virus has already shown up in Lubbock this season.

“We haven’t had any human cases of West Nile, what we’ve found through our surveillance efforts is mosquitoes are testing positive for the virus,” Wells said.

Wells says the City of Lubbock’s Vector Control is spraying public areas, but there are things you can do at home to help.

“Go around and just dump any standing water that’s gathered in their house,” Wells said. “You know, children’s toys, wheelbarrows, you know, buckets all collect water, and if you can just go over and turn that over it really does help reduce those populations.”

Wells says to take extra precautions when doing so, to protect yourself.

“You know, wearing an E-P-A approved mosquito repellent, you know, wearing a long sleeve or long pants, you know, avoid being out in dusk and dawn, especially without mosquito repellent on,” Wells said.

Wells says they want everyone to take these extra steps for their own safety.

“We’re seeing an increase in mosquitoes around the community, and we have the West Nile, so it is possible to get infected, so we want them to take those steps,” Wells said.

If you are infected with the virus, Wells says you can experience Flu-like symptoms including, fever, headaches, tremors, and muscle weakness.

“If you have those more severe symptoms, especially the muscle weakness, any kind of numbness, paralysis, it’s very important to seek medical care,” Wells said.

There is no treatment for West Nile, just the symptoms. If you do think you have the virus, Wells advises you to contact your health provider. She says most people are sick for eight to ten days, but those who get the virus more severely have a longer duration and recovery time.