Lufkin ISD protects campuses against West Nile epidemic

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With one of the largest West Nile epidemics now detected in East Texas, the focus is on preventing the spread of the virus.

"This is not something I can wait until I have my first incident with children and then be reactive. It's too late then," said Lufkin ISD Superintendent, Roy Knight.

For health officials like Terry Free, that means dispelling the rumors and sharing the facts.

"People get concerned about going out because, you know, again it is a concern. It's a great concern. But, every mosquito does not contain West Nile," said Terry Free, Director of Environmental and Consumer Services for the Angelina County and Cities Health District.

So far, three cases have been confirmed in Angelina County, which we're told is not a cause for concern just yet. However, with slower immune systems, children and the elderly are most vulnerable to becoming fatally ill. With the start of school more than a week away, Lufkin ISD administrators are working to protect all 85-hundred students.

Knight, says the district has spent the past three weeks creating the best strategy for combating the virus. He says the thousands of dollars spent in protection are well worth it.

"We've invested in insecticide that actually goes into the creek, that's EPA friendly, but prevents larvae from developing in those creeks," said Knight.

Areas around each of the school district's 15 campuses will be treated. Grass will be cut low, and insecticides will be sprayed on shrubs in hopes of preventing students from contracting the virus.

Knight says the district will have to spray every couple of weeks, in the early morning and evening hours while children are away from school. Officials do not anticipate limiting time outside for recess or activities.

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