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Pool of mosquitoes in Central Austin tests positive for West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes in Central Austin test positive for West Nile Virus

Mosquito that carries chikungunya virus
Mosquitoes only need a teaspoon of standing water to breed. Photo courtesy of CDC

As if wildfires, a global pandemic, an economic recession, and a nationwide racial justice movement weren't enough to deal with, Travis County officials have identified West Nile Virus in a pool of mosquitoes.

Austin Public Health announced the findings on July 16, saying that mosquitoes in the 78756 ZIP code — encapsulating Central Austin neighborhoods like Rosedale and Brentwood — tested positive for the virus.

West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness in the U.S., though there were no positive mosquitoes found in Travis County last year. Common symptoms of West Nile, some of which nightmarishly overlap with the novel coronavirus, include fever, headache and body aches, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph nodes.

To combat West Nile, consider the four Ds: dusk through dawn, DEET, drain, and dress.

Austin Public Health says that while different types of mosquitoes are active at different times during the day, the ones that carry West Nile are most active at night, hence dusk through dawn. If outside, ditch the all-natural spray for repellent that has DEET as an active ingredient. 

APH also urges residents to drain all standing water, including birdbaths, flower pots, clogged gutters, and, yes, even the wading pool you purchased to make this pandemic summer slightly more bearable. Mosquitoes can only breed in water, but they need only about a teaspoon to do so, notes APH.

Austinites are also encouraged to wear long sleeves, pants, and loose-fitting clothing in light colors. On a related not, it's summer in Texas and we're under a mandatory mask order.

“Our community has the ability to help us prevent mosquito-borne viruses,” said Don Hastings, APH's assistant director for environmental health. “Let’s take the time to remove standing water, wear protective clothing when working outside, and avoid being outside when mosquitoes are active.”

As for us, guess we'll be indoors. Possibly forever.