Environmental Protection

Dallas Mayor Declares West Nile Emergency

The mayor of Dallas, Texas, Mike Rawlings, signed a proclamation Aug. 15 declaring a local state of disaster to be in effect for seven days as officials in the city and Dallas County respond to a widespread outbreak of West Nile Virus. As of Aug. 14, 10 people have died of West Nile in Dallas County so far this year, according to the county’s health and human services department (DHHS).

Dallas and some smaller adjacent cities are scheduled to conduct aerial spraying of insecticide Aug. 16, a controversial step that has rarely been used there. The spraying will take place, weather permitting, in parts of north Dallas.

DHHS is testing for infected mosquitoes throughout the county. It reported 190 human cases of WNV in the county this year as of Aug. 13. There were 181 human cases, with two deaths, as of Aug. 15 in adjacent Tarrant County, which includes the city of Fort Worth.

Health officials say this is already the worst year for West Nile in their region since 2006. Historical data provided by Tarrant County Public Health show there were 53 human cases and seven deaths associated with West Nile in Tarrant County during 2006.

The Texas Department of State Health Services endorses aerial spraying, with Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner, saying the disease “poses an immediate public health threat to Dallas County. We need to use all possible tools, including aerial spraying, to fight this outbreak,” he added.

According to the city of Dallas’ posted WNV information, DSHS contracts with Clarke, a private environmental products and services company, for aerial application of Duet, a mosquito control product labeled and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in outdoor and residential areas. It will be applied at very low dosages, less than an ounce per acre, by small, twin-engine aircrafts flying about 300 feet above ground overnight.

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