Friday, August 10, 2012

Dallas County Recommending Aerial Spraying - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Dallas County's highest elected official is calling for aerial spraying for mosquitoes in three cities to help fight West Nile virus.

County Judge Clay Jenkins announced Friday that the county had requested planes from the state.

The plan calls for misting neighborhoods from the air with pesticides in the North Dallas County area hardest hit by West Nile virus -- an area bounded by the Dallas North Tollway, Interstate 635 and Interstate 30.

In a statement, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he agrees with the county's plan and will meet with city, county and state officials to determine a specific approach. University Park and Highland Park said Friday night that they would use aerial spraying.

Planes would not be available until Monday.

On Thursday, the county declared a state of emergency because of the growing West Nile virus outbreak. County health and emergency management officials met Friday afternoon with top health officials from the state and federal government.

"The recommendation of the top official in the United States of America ... tells me that it is far more uniform and as safe or safer and has a better chance of eradicating this disease, which has claimed nine lives already in Dallas County,” Jenkins said.

The county previously had resisted aerial spraying, which the county has not done since 1966.

Earlier this week, the Dallas County Medical Society, a group of doctors, urged the county to agree to aerial spraying. Two of the doctors attended Friday's meeting with county officials.

On Tuesday, Jenkins and the rest of the Commissioners Court had publicly endorsed an expanded ground-spraying plan laid out by Dallas County Health Director Zach Thompson.

The plan called for spraying in the hardest-hit areas three nights in a row from trucks.

Jenkins said the expanded ground spraying would begin this weekend and that Thompson had always planned to study the option of aerial spraying.

“We had that discussion today,” Jenkins said.

Thompson attended Friday's news conference announcing the aerial-spraying plan but did not speak.

Dallas County is experiencing the worst outbreak of West nile virus in county history. The county had 181 human cases of West Nile virus as of Friday evening, far more than the old record of 104 cases, which was set in 2006. Nine people in Dallas County diagnosed with West Nile virus have died.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most West Nile virus infections are reported in August and September, so it is not yet clear how bad this year will be.

Get tips on symptoms of West Nile virus and West Nile virus prevention here.

West Nile Virus Facts

Most people bitten by a West Nile virus-infected mosquito will not show any symptoms. Symptoms, if they appear, are fever, headache, nausea, body aches, swollen lymph nodes and skin rashes.

Fewer than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile virus experience the serious form of the illness. Serious symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors or convulsions, vision loss, muscle weakness and numbness or paralysis.

Both Dallas and Richardson are urging residents to:

  • Drain standing water around their homes to reduce mosquito breeding grounds.
  • Dress in pants and long sleeves when outside, but avoid becoming too hot.
  • Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET to exposed skin and to clothing when outdoors.
  • Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

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