The city of Fort Worth and the University of North Texas Health Science Center have renewed their mosquito-surveillance partnership, part of an effort blending hard science with community outreach to prevent the spread of West Nile virus. Under the agreement, graduate students and a scientist from UNTHSC trap and collect mosquitos from more than 60 sites across the city. The mosquitos are then tested for WNV infection at labs at UNTHSC and Tarrant County Public Health.
Based on test results, medical entomologist and assistant professor of environmental and occupational health Joon-Hak Lee, makes weekly recommendations to city officials about whether any intervention methods or precautionary measures should be considered. “The weekly snapshot of West Nile virus activity gives us a real-time look at the situation and the opportunity to stop any potential problems,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “We have a program in place that allows us to be proactive and ensures that we get the most accurate and timely information to our residents as quickly as possible.” The city plans to continue its public outreach by communicating with community leaders, neighborhood associations and door-to-door canvassing. Lee said the prevention and control program can be used as a model for other cities in Texas. At the height of the virus in 2012, the city had 16 positive mosquito pools and 81 human infections. Last year, there were five positive pools and six human infections. -Betty Dillard email@example.com