Houston, Get Ready for Your West Nile Virus Spraying

Houston has seen what's going on in Dallas and decided it is no time to mess around with the West Nile Virus.

Three Houston-area deaths from the mosquito-borne disease have been reported, with the victims all being older than 55.

Dallas County has declared a state of emergency after nine local deaths this summer.

The city of Houston and Harris County have been busy warning residents about what steps to take to protect themselves, and to get out the word on spraying plans.

As of now, the impressively named Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services says it will spray on the northwest side of town Wednesday evening, when the hugely annoying (and now deadly!) critters are outdoing their utmost to bother law-abiding folks.

Officials hope to spray 63,000 acres, weather permitting.

"Harris County is experiencing an increase of West Nile Virus infection in mosquitoes and, most notably, in the dead-bird population," said Dr. Rudy Buena, director of HCPHES mosquito control. "This situation has prompted the need to supplement the ongoing countywide ground treatment with aerial treatment in the designated areas to better protect the health of our residents."

In other words, workers are not just emptying out abandoned tires, boats and other mosquito gathering places, they will bring Death From Above, too. The city of Houston is offering the following tips on dealing with West Nile:

Protect Yourself -- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially from dusk to dawn. -- Use insect repellent that contains DEET. Children should use insect repellents that contain less than 10 percent DEET. Do not apply DEET on babies. Adults should use insect repellents that contain more than 10 percent DEET.

Keep the storm sewers clean to reduce mosquito breeding -- Sweep up lawn clippings, leaves and limbs from sidewalks, driveways, curbs and gutters. -- Don't let lawn water or car washing water enter the street. -- Pick up litter and other debris from your yard and the street.

Keep the mosquitoes out of your house -- Keep doors and windows closed. -- Seal cracks and gaps in the house. -- If mosquitoes are in the house, use flying insect spray, following label instructions.

Other actions to prevent mosquito breeding -- Empty, remove or dispose of anything in the yard that can hold water: flower pot saucers, cans, toys, litter, rain barrels, plastic sheeting, etc. -- Pet water bowls and birdbaths should be emptied and refilled at least twice a week. -- Keep the rain gutters on your house clean and properly draining. -- Repair household water leaks, move air-conditioner drain hose frequently. -- Report water and sewer main leaks and breaks to 311.

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