Pesky mosquitos, which are capable of carrying a handful of viruses, are unofficially enemies of the state that the Harris County Public Health Mosquito Control Division takes seriously.
To combat the roughly 56 mosquito species in the county, Harris County Public Health has made functionality improvements to its mobile application, and will continue to add more features in the coming weeks.
“This functionality of the app is fairly new, but yes we have received some reports (of mosquito problems). Our website has taken close to 1,000 reports,” Elizabeth Perez said, Public Health director of communications. “However, our goal is to extend our services to be more accessible to the community, this is why the development of the app is so important.”
Mosquitos are present year-round due to unpredictable climate conditions, but Perez said mosquitos are most prevalent during the summer months — from May to October — when lots of rain, heat and humidity create the “perfect storm” for mosquito breeding.
“It is also the time when most people tend to be enjoying the outdoors, so wearing insect repellant is important,” Perez added. “Contrary to popular belief, mosquitos can bite all hours of the day and evening. Thus, our Mosquito and Vector Control Division operates all year round for mosquito-borne disease prevention.”
To assist with mosquito control, the mobile application allows residents to look up spraying areas, report mosquito activities and dead birds that can be collected for testing since the West Nile virus is transmitted to birds through the bite of infected mosquitos. The inverse can occur, as biting infected birds can also infect mosquitos.
“As the number of dead birds increases within a certain period, this is a warning that the virus will soon be found in mosquitoes and that human exposure to this disease will increase,” Perez said.
The Mosquito Control Division will only spray in areas where there is a confirmed report of mosquitos carrying viruses, which are identified through its mosquito control surveillance and testing at the 268 operational areas throughout the county. Technicians also set and retrieve traps every week and transport mosquitos for sorting and lab testing at the Mosquito and Vector Control Division for analysis.
“If we identify any pools of mosquitoes carrying viruses, we immediately spray that infected area and its adjacent areas,” Perez said. “Being transparent is important because we want the public to be empowered to make the best health decision possible.”
The Harris County Public Health mobile application does much more than provide information on mosquito control, allowing users to access services related to environmental & food services, preparedness response, disease control clinical services, animal services and nutrition and healthy living.
To download the application, search “Harris County Public Health” in the app store. In addition to the mobile application, the county health department will post information at http://publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/Services-Programs/All-Services/Mosquito-Control-Services.
Residents can also report mosquito breeding on its website at www.hcph.org/mc or can call 713-440-4800.
In addition, residents can call 713-440-3036 to report dead birds.