West Nile Virus Goes Easy On Harris County This Year

Last year at this time — the Houston area was going through the worst West Nile Virus outbreak on record in Texas. Four people died in Houston and 85 others died statewide as a result of the virus. But this year the disease has barely shown itself.

Last year more than 100 people were infected in Houston and Harris County, nearly 400 people had symptoms in Dallas County.

By contrast, this year only four human cases have been reported in Texas, none of them fatal and none of them in the Houston area.

Sandy Kachur is spokesperson for the Harris County Mosquito Control Division. She says some mosquitoes are testing positive.

"We are seeing a little increase in West Nile Virus activity and also mosquito activity out there, but this is the time of year, July/August, that we normally see that. But nothing compared to last year."

Kachur says one interesting thing to note is the virus isn't killing birds — at least not any that the county has been able to document.

"We have not detected West Nile Virus in any dead birds. It's not to say it's not out there, because we know that mosquitoes are testing positive, we know the birds are out there carrying it. But it doesn't seem as though they're dying from the disease as they were in previous years."

Kachur says Harris County residents who find a recently dead bird, especially bluejays, should notify the Mosquito Control Division.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...