HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Hurricane Hanna left still water throughout the Rio Grande Valley- creating the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos to bread, which can then spread the West Nile virus.
Cases of the mosquito-spread disease, which is worse than COVID-19, have already popped up in northern and central Texas.
“We have a lot more habitat for mosquitos down here. We do get a lot of rain,” said John Thomas, lab director at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Counties in Austin and Dallas have recently confirmed cases of the West Nile virus.
“From COVID, you already have to be in a position where you’re weakened physically and you susceptible to the agent. But you don’t have to have that requirement for West Nile. You can have a perfectly healthy person get infected with West Nile virus and pass away,” he said.
Thomas runs test for everything from COVID-19 to West Nile and said there haven’t been any confirmed cases here in the Valley. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip the bug spray because both viruses cause fever and fatigue.
“There’s a few extra symptoms that we see in COVID that we don’t identify with West Nile, which is like the respiratory issues that are involved and the intense coughing,” he said.
Cities have been spraying open water to kill mosquito larvae but there’s more you can do.
“Somebody decided to take some tires and repaint them and attached them to the side of their house like a form of decoration. Which is fine but when it rains that water gets into that tire that’s nailed to the side of your house. You [are] now creating a condominium for mosquitos to hop in. I’ve seen mosquitoes grow and lay eggs in a cap full of water. So, it takes a very tiny space for these things to breed and lay eggs and open deposits,” he said.
Cities across the Valley say they will continue to spray areas if weather permits.
The public is urged to contact their city if they notice an abnormal amount of mosquitoes in their area.