Hit hard by West Nile, Dallas OKs spraying

Posted: August 16, 2012

DALLAS - Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Wednesday declared the city's recent West Nile virus outbreak to be a state of emergency and authorized the first aerial spraying of insecticide in the city in more than 45 years.

Dallas and other North Texas cities have agreed to the rare use of aerial spraying from planes to combat the nation's worst outbreak of West Nile virus this year. Dallas last had aerial spraying in 1966, when more than a dozen deaths were blamed on encephalitis.

More than 200 cases of West Nile and 10 deaths linked to the virus have been reported across Dallas County, where officials authorized aerial spraying last week. State health department statistics show 381 cases and 16 deaths related to West Nile statewide.

No other state comes close, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though neighboring states also are reporting higher infection rates: Louisiana and Mississippi have each reported 39 West Nile cases and one death.

As of Aug. 7, one nonfatal infection was reported in New Jersey and no cases were reported in Pennsylvania.

"The number of cases, the number of deaths, are remarkable, and we need to sit up and take notice," Rawlings said during a City Council briefing. "We do have a serious problem right now."

Aerial spraying for mosquitoes could begin Thursday evening, depending on weather conditions. The state health department will pay for the $500,000 aerial spraying with emergency funds.

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