Rains increase dangers of Zika, West Nile viruses

Empty all standing water from bird baths and other containers around homes and businesses to slow the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. (Photo: Bettie Cross)

The rain storms are creating another problem in Central Texas. Standing water increases the risk of being infected with mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and the West Nile Virus. After Monday’s heavy overnight rains, isolated storms are in the forecast for the next few days and it only takes a little bit of water sitting in containers to create a big problem.

“They can lay their eggs in just a tablespoon of water,” said Chris Van Deusen, spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

That means everything from bird baths, outdoor toys, gutters, pet water bowls and kiddie pools need to be dumped out. No standing water should be left around a home or business for more than a couple of days.

“If you're turning over that water every three days that's not going to give the mosquito enough time to lay the eggs, have those eggs hatch and then develop into adults again,” said Van Deusen.

Once the container is empty, give it a good scrubbing to kill the eggs that can stick to it like glue.

“The eggs can persist and survive even in dry conditions and then the next time there's rain that container fills up with water and kind of reanimates the eggs and then they can go on to hatch after that,” said Van Deusen.

So far this summer Texas has seen fewer Zika travel cases, but the virus is moving closer to the Texas border with Mexico.

“So that's really what we're watching now, is if the disease continues to progress up toward the river, toward the border and that's really where it becomes a risk for us,” said Van Deusen.

Zika virus isn't the only concern. West Nile virus is another mosquito-borne disease that spreads with the help of standing water left around homes and businesses for more than a few days. In Texas the risk continues through October and November.

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