Fort Worth, UNTHSC team up on West Nile virus prevention

 WestNile7
Joon-Hak Lee, PhD, and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price

The City of Fort Worth and UNT 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.

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 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,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “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.”

In the news:
WFAA-TV
UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth team up to tackle West Nile virus

CBS 11
Research may predict West Nile virus trendsNBC 5
UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth work to fight West Nile virusFort Worth Business Press
Mosquito-surveillance partnership between Fort Worth, UNTHSC renewed

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 set traps each Monday and collect mosquitos every Tuesday. Lab testing and data analysis occurs 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.

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