FORT WORTH, Texas, June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The City of Fort Worth and the University of North Texas Health Science Center have renewed their mosquito-surveillance partnership, part of a unique effort blending hard science with community outreach to prevent the spread of West Nile virus.
Under the agreement, graduate students and a scientist from UNTHSC trap and collect mosquitos from more than 60 sites across the city. The mosquitos are then tested for WNV infection at labs at UNTHSC and Tarrant County Public Health.
Based on test results, medical entomologist Joon-Hak Lee, PhD, makes weekly recommendations to city officials about whether any intervention methods or precautionary measures should be considered.
"The weekly snapshot of West Nile virus activity gives us a real-time look at the situation and the opportunity to stop any potential problems," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "We have a program in place that allows us to be proactive and ensures that we get the most accurate and timely information to our residents as quickly as possible."
The city plans to continue its public outreach by communicating with community leaders, neighborhood associations and door-to-door canvassing.
Dr. Lee previously coordinated insect-borne virus tracking programs for Iowa, Alabama, New York and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Using grass clippings and standing water as bait, Dr. Lee and his team of graduate students set traps each Monday and collect mosquitos every Tuesday, allowing Dr. Lee to conduct testing in his lab and data analysis on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays, he provides a report and recommendations to Fort Worth officials.
"We're applying science-based best public health practices to create a West Nile virus-prevention and control program that can be used as a model for other cities in Texas," said Dr. Lee, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health.
At the height of the virus in 2012, the city had 16 positive mosquito pools and 81 human infections. Last year, there were five positive pools and six human infections.
The UNT Health Science Center comprises the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, School of Health Professions and the UNT System College of Pharmacy. Key areas of inter-professional strength include aging and Alzheimer's disease, applied genetics, primary care and prevention.
SOURCE UNT Health Science Center