Weatherford city council members opted to continue monitoring and staying up on the West Nile virus status around the area and to purchase mosquito dunks during a special meeting Tuesday night.
City officials organized the meeting at the Weatherford Library to get citizen feedback on how to handle the issue. Mayor Dennis Hooks said that while West Nile is not a problem here in Weatherford right now, it could become one.
“They could come this way,” Hooks said. “We simply didn’t want to bury our heads in the sand. This is the residents’ money and the residents’ health we’re dealing with.”
Three residents came out to listen to a presentation by Consumer Health Coordinator with the City of Weatherford Angel Smith. Smith said the Texas Department of State Health Services had reported zero cases in Parker County as of Tuesday afternoon.
Other sources have cases in the county ranging anywhere from one to three. City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said the number could fluctuate depending on where the individual was treated.
Most of the risk of West Nile Virus is from July to September and even then the risk of becoming infected is very low, Smith said.
“Even if you are bitten by an insect that is infected, your chance of becoming ill is about one percent,” Smith said.
Smith said the city has used a number of techniques to inform the public, including the Black Board message to those who have signed up for the service with the city, updating the city website, using a press release and a short statement on electric bills, which began in July and will run through October, Smith said.
Smith said citizens can protect themselves in a number of ways, including draining all standing water around homes, avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, using an insect repellent with DEET and dressing in long sleeves during outdoor activities.
Treatment options include aerial spraying, which Blaisdell said would cost $38,000 per application. Spraying only works on mosquitoes that are active at the time of spraying and does not kill larvae. Studies have shown harm to both animals and humans with breathing difficulties as well.
Blaisdell said with mosquito season ending in the next few weeks and larvae continuing to hatch, the city was not looking at aerial spraying.
Smith said a much more economical way of controlling the population would be the use of mosquito broquettes which are placed in areas of standing water and can neutralize the problem. The cost is about $85 per 100 broquettes.
Council members approved the purchase of broquettes for citizen use. In Smith’s presentation, it was stated upon proof of residency that each resident would be given two broquettes. Broquettes would be available for pickup at both City Hall and fire stations. When the system would be used is unclear.
Council members said the city would continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action as needed.