"West Nile's Cycle"Students are normally out late and after dark, it’s important that they take precautions against West Nile Virus. It has been confirmed that there are over 800 cases of West Nile in the state of Texas alone.

“We have eight confirmed cases as of Aug. 28 in Smith County; Seven of which are the West Nile Neuro-Invasive Disease which is a little more serious. And one, which is the West Nile Fever, is a light case,” said Brenda Elrod, North East Texas Health’s Environmental Health Director.

“Nineteen percent of the people may develop a rash and feel yucky and think they have a summer cold and get over it. That’s the West Nile Fever. Unfortunately, there is one percent that may get an infection in the brain, which could cause encephalitis, which gives you an infection in the spinal cord and meningitis.”

 

In July, the first few cases of West Nile Virus had been found in Dallas County, Texas. Due to the mild winter and early warm and wet summer, the mosquito population has been able to grow rapidly. This year’s mosquito population has tripled in size compared to last year’s 27 cases in 2011 according to the Center for Disease Control’s website.

The West Nile is a disease that can spread through the bite of a female mosquito that is carrying the virus. People most susceptible to this virus are residents from the ages of 50 and up. But that doesn’t mean that a student at Tyler Junior College can’t get this virus. It all depends on the individual’s overall health.

A person is more susceptible to getting this virus if they have diabetes or any other bad health condition. This is why students at TJC should take precautions.

“The city of Tyler has money to provide chemical treatment to deter mosquitoes, a biological larvacide that keeps baby mosquitoes from growing into adults,” said Elrod. “It lasts for 180 days in wet stagnate areas, a mineral oil base product that sticks to the top of standing water to suffocate mosquito larvae and an aerial application of an adulticide chemical that only has two hour kill time and targets most adult mosquitoes.”

At TJC crews have drained the memorial fountain and put chlorine in other fountains so the larvae cannot live in them.

That is not the only precaution that a student can take. The city of Tyler is trying to keep the mosquito population down but students can also help by just turning over objects that are collecting water.

“We always check for standing water and broken sprinklers year round,” said Bill King, Executive Director for Facilities and Construction at TJC.

When turning over those objects students and faculty are keeping a female from laying her eggs in the water and the larvae from growing into adult mosquitoes.

But protecting against West Nile doesn’t stop there. Lindy Dolan, P.A. at Cardiovascular Consultants and mother of three said, “I have been using precautions including using repellant.”

That’s why Brenda Elrod tells students to focus on the four “D’s”.

  • Dawn and dusk is when mosquitoes are most active so avoid being outside during those times.
  • Deet, apply a mosquito repellant that contains deet to repel the mosquitoes.
  • Drain any standing water around a house, apartment, or dorm.
  • Dress in light colored clothing with long sleeves to protect the skin.

Some students at TJC don’t think it really is a risk.

“I’m not really worried about West Nile because I am young and healthy. I don’t plan on taking any of the precautions for myself, but I do plan on dumping the water around my house,” Joseph Haddad, TJC Freshmen said.

Though young students aren’t at risk to catch West Nile Virus, it is best to at least try to prevent it. Elrod also said that TJC might be on the check list to make sure that mosquitoes and the potential West Nile Virus are kept at bay.

By: Ashleigh Brents

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