This season, public health experts suggest that fall classes aren’t the only things for which students should brace themselves.
Students also need to take precautions against the West Nile virus — instances of the virus have increased by 40 percent since last week, according to the CDC — especially considering many college students are on the way to or from classes at dusk or dawn.
“It’s a bit impractical to always remain indoors at dusk and dawn. If you are outside, then use a repellent with DEET, Picaridin or the oil of lemon eucalyptus. They’re very easy to purchase,” said Floyd Robinson, director of the UH Health Center.
Cases of West Nile in dead birds have been detected in Harris county, according to Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services.
Every year, HCPHES releases information about how residents can protect themselves from the threat of illness carried by mosquitoes. It suggests not only that residents use repellent to stay safe, but also that mosquito attracting environments such as standing water and lawn clippings be removed from public areas.
“Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus in Harris County are nighttime fliers. They also like to come indoors,” said Sandy Kachur, the senior public information officer at HCPHES.
According to the CDC, cat or dog owners should not use DEET-based insect repellents on the animals, because of the chance that the animal could ingest the repellent. The CDC also says that if a cat or dog contracts the West Nile Virus, it is likely to recover fully.
UH is also taking steps to ensure that mosquitoes are less of a threat on campus.
“The campus is involved with spraying mosquitoes, but sometimes the mosquitoes try to get away and rush into our buildings,” Robinson said.
Kachur is much more direct about the solution.
“If you see any mosquito inside, kill it,” Kachur said.