Thursday, July 26, 2012

West Nile virus in League City

A rumor reached me yesterday and the rumor said that West Nile virus was recently detected in League City. 
Mosquito close-up photo.
Nasty, nasty, nasty.
From Wikipedia (here).
However, I haven't been able to substantiate this rumor.  Of course, West Nile has been detected in League City in the past, because it has been detected just about everywhere by this time.   
Distribution of West Nile in North America,
from Wikipedia (this page).

But the news reports I'm finding are all old (e.g., this one from GCDN in 2004).  If anyone knows of any such source of alleged recent information, please contact me via centerpointe dot blog at gmail.

One thing we can do is take a look at what is known about West Nile prevalence at the present time.  Oddly enough, much of the current monitoring is communicated through the United States Geological Survey.  Mosquitoes are not really a subject of geology, but USGS does produce maps, afterall. 
Screengrab from this page.
Most of the current human infections are occurring in the DFW area.
This source was showing NO confirmed West Nile cases this year in Galveston County, at least not as of two days ago.
Galveston County Mosquito Control corroborates the information above, having posted this statement to their homepage:

We have had no West Nile Virus positives in our mosquito pools or sentinel flocks within the county. We do test for arboviruses weekly. We understand that Harris County has seen some positives and there are some concerns by our citizens.

By "mosquito pools" and "sentinel flocks", they mean the non-human testing that they monitor for distant early warnings of the re-arrival of the virus.  "Sentinel flocks" is often a fancy way of saying "chickens". 
USGS reports no West Nile cases in any sentinels anywhere in the state, as of two days ago.  But Mosquito Control is saying that now cases are emerging to the north of us.  Perhaps the rumor I heard pertained to those emerging cases for Harris County. 

I don't know why this omission occurred, but I did email Mosquito Control asking about it, and they confirmed via a response email that we were not among those areas of League City that were covered the other day.  That evening, my husband and I heard their truck go down either Walker Street or Centerpointe Drive, but it never went through the neighborhood.  We are outdoorsy people and usually pay strict attention to where the truck is (you can hear the sound of its pesticide diffuser quite some distance away and can usually follow the truck's path with your ears).   We have never heard it skip Centerpointe before this most recent time.

Please keep their telephone ringing, and thanks for your help.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thy neighbor's camera

Interesting snippet from Click2Houston / KPRC today about a guy stealing expensive potted plants from a residence.

Screengrab from KPRC's story here
This scene was immediately reminiscent of the blog post I did about a month ago called "Pickers", where I parsed some camera stills of a man and woman not stealing per se, but loading items from our trash into their pick-up truck.
This is a screengrab from that post.
I guess these kinds of petty thieves don't read the papers much.  Sales of these security cameras are just exploding right now, but few thieves seem to realize it.  Pretty soon, everywhere we go, all of us will be photographed from five different angles.

Anyway, this is one more good reason to get to know your neighbors.  You should get to know your Centerpointe neighbors because it's the neighborly thing to do, and because they are most likely very nice people who are worth knowing.  But you should also get to know your neighbors because you never can tell ahead of time who is running their own hidden security camera systems, and one day that knowledge might come in handy, as it did for the Midtown folks described in the news piece above. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Carbon monoxide and carpet cleaning

A brief note here to remind you all to ensure that there are working carbon monoxide detectors within your houses.  Go and test them now if you have them.
One of ours.
The reason this comes to mind at this very moment is as follows:  One of my neighbors has a carpet cleaning service at their home.  I'm sitting here listening to that godawful deafening drone of noise that all those service truck engines make.

The key phrase there is service truck engine.  As I understand it, the carpet cleaning machines often operate via a power take-off (PTO) from the truck engines.  The trucks have to remain running in order for the carpet cleaning machines to operate.  And the truck engines produce carbon monoxide (CO) in their exhaust as they are running. 

  • As I was getting my previous house polished for sale prior to moving into Centerpointe, I had my carpets cleaned. 
  • The cleaning company parked their truck in my driveway, as such services usually do. 
  • The service personnel left my garage door open as they worked. 
  • My attached garage faced south. 
  • The prevailing winds in Houston usually blow from the south. 
  • The wind blew the truck exhaust into my garage, where it accumulated.
  • The carbon monoxide in the truck exhaust seeped upward into the two children's bedrooms that were directly above my garage. 
  • My carbon monoxide alarms (including the one pictured above) went off in those children's bedrooms, indicating that it was not safe to be in there because of elevated carbon monoxide.  CO levels got surprisingly high within a very short period of time. 
I had to stop the servicemen from working and get them to move their truck farther away from my house, and then I had to get everybody out of the house and then air out my entire house until the detectors showed that the CO was gone.

Watch out for this type of situation developing - I didn't know this type of thing could happen simply from a vehicle parked in the driveway (most of us know not to run our vehicles in our attached garages, but simply by it being outside?) and someone could get hurt by it.  NO amount of inhaled carbon monoxide is good for your health.