So far this season, there have been five deaths in Dallas County as a result of West Nile virus — three of which have been in the Park Cities area.
Highland Park resident Charles Pistor, an 81-year-old businessman, died on July 18 after contacting West Nile. Pistor was the former vice chairman of First RepublicBank, and he was a staunch supporter of Southern Methodist University.
Also, there have been no West Nile deaths in University Park this year, but two people, who lived just north of Northwest Highway in the 75225 zip code, which is shared between the City of Dallas and University Park, reportedly died from the virus toward the end of July.
The Park Cities community is currently working to help prevent the disease from spreading.
The City of University Park is increasing the number of times it fogs all of its alleys, streets and parks for mosquitoes from every 30 days to seven-day periods because of the active West Nile season, said Steve Mace, UP’s community information officer.
All of the mosquito fogging that is done by University Park occurs between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., which helps limit the exposure to residents and their pets, who might be sensitive to the material that is emitted, Mace said. A list of the city’s mosquito fogging schedule can be found on the University Park website.
“We have been one of the few communities in the area that has routinely sprayed like this to reduce the mosquito population,” Mace said.
University Park even recently recalibrated its fogging equipment, with the help of Dallas County, to maximize its effectiveness, Mace said.
“In addition, Park personnel are continuing to hand-fog various inlets and drain areas city-wide,” according to the City of University Park’s website.
Despite there being no deaths from West Nile so far this season in University Park, some citizens have called the city to express their concerns and find out what is being done locally to help prevent West Nile, Mace said. If any University Park resident has questions or discovers a mosquito infestation, they can call 311 or the city’s Park Department at (214) 987-5488.
Town of Highland Park has also received calls from local citizens who are concerned about West Nile and wanted to report areas of high mosquito activity, said Sgt. Lance Koppa, the Town of Highland Park’s spokesperson.
Dallas County Health and Human Services has a contract with Highland Park to spray the Town for mosquitoes, because Highland Park does not have fogging trucks, Koppa said. Areas throughout the Town are routinely checked for West Nile and are sprayed when mosquito samples test positive for the virus.
The entire Town was sprayed for mosquitoes several weeks ago, Koppa said.
“On Friday, July 20, University Park was a good neighbor and sent trucks over here to spray,” Koppa said. “And, on Monday, July 23, Dallas County sprayed the entire Town of Highland Park.”
To further help prevent West Nile, Highland Park is putting larvacide in areas with high standing water, Koppa said.
West Nile is spread to humans from mosquitoes that contracted the disease from infected birds, but the virus is not spread from person-to-person or animal-to-person contact, according to the Dallas County Health and Human Services website.
"People 50 years of age and older have the highest risk of severe disease," according to the Dallas County Health and Human Services website.
Severe cases of West Nile can result in neurological complications while milder cases cause headaches, muscle aches and fevers, according to the Dallas County Health and Human Services website. West Nile virus is detected through a blood test, there is no specific treatment, and symptoms usually occur anywhere from three to 14 days after a person becomes infected. People who have severe symptoms should see a doctor.
What You Can Do to Prevent West Nile
- During dawn and dusk, wear long, loose-fitting clothes.
- Make sure there is not any standing water near your residence.
- Keep yards maintained, and cut back on unnecessary plant growth.
- Apply insect repellents that have DEET.
- Make sure trashcans are covered, so water does not collect inside them.
(Source: City of University Park website.)