Sunday, August 12, 2012

Residents React to West Nile Virus Aerial Spraying - 33 KDAF-TV

University Park â€"

North Dallas, University Park, and Highland Park are suffering from the deadliest nationwide outbreak of West Nile Virus this year: it is now a public health emergency.

After weeks of ground spraying, hundreds of West Nile Virus cases, and 9 deaths, Dallas County Health officials are turning to airplaces. They say aerial spraying is their next plan of attack.

Dallas elected and health officials, along with state and federal health officials have decided that aerial spraying is now the most impactful method to knock out the mosquito infestation.

University Park neighbors Margaret Ashley and Susan Stratton spray mosquito repellent religiously.

 “This is a great, beautiful neighborhood, but there are many ponds, and lakes and creeks, and that means mosquitoes,” says University Park resident, Susan Stratton.

Mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. A scary thought for the elderly, who are more susceptible. Francis Randall says he knew one of the nine people who have now died in Dallas County due to West Nile.

“I was thinking: I could be next,” says University Park resident, Francis Randall.

And Dallas, State, and Federal health officials say more deaths are imminent if the next step of their comprehensive approach isn’t taken. Which is why they’ve announced their next plan of action: aerial spraying.

“The planes are quite a bit more sophisticated and are able to get their product where it needs to go and have real-time mapping of where that is,” says Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Local officials have already sent a request for 5 airplanes with certified operators to the state. They expect those planes to arrive by the end of next week.

“The data is showing us that aerial spray has a more uniform coverage and can obviously cover a lot more ground a lot faster,” says Judge Jenkins.

University Park residents we spoke with support the decision.

“Well, I would say my general thought is we should do it if it’s gonna prevent any more deaths,” says University Park resident, Margaret Ashley.

 “As long as we’re notified and notified with the proper precautions to take, I think it’s probably a good idea,” says University Park resident, Susan Stratton. 

“I’m just in favor of killing mosquitoes. And I’ll just worry about the long-term effects later on,” says University Park resident, Francis Randall.

Health officials say the aerial spraying is safe and uses the same compound as used during ground spraying. The approach has been successful in other U.S. cities.

“Cities are on-board, the elected officials are on-board, and so that makes it a win-win process and we’ll evaluate it as we go through the process,” says Dallas County Health and Human Services Director, Dr. Zachary Thompson. 

Until the aerial spraying is underway, these affected areas will conduct three consecutive nights of progressive ground spraying. This will start Monday night and go through Wednesday. Over the next few days, Dallas County Health Officials will release details of the aerial spraying process and what residents can do in preparation.

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