Dallas County considers aerial spraying in West Nile outbreak
DALLAS, TX — The Texas Department of State Health Services is providing guidance for people concerned about potential aerial spraying to control mosquitoes in their areas. DSHS is preparing resources – airplanes, chemical spray and crews – to be ready to fill official requests from Dallas-area officials for aerial spraying to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus.
State health officials are working closely with Dallas-area public health and emergency management officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning the extremely high number of human cases of the disease in Dallas County. Local officials are expected to make decisions about spraying this week.
“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,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “We will support the decisions made by local officials as we work together to confront this situation. We are on standby to respond to their requests for aerial spraying or other assistance.”
Aerial spraying is a very effective and safe way to kill adult mosquitoes in large, densely populated areas. For people concerned about exposure during aerial spraying, health officials suggest the following precautions:
Minimize exposure. Avoid being outside, close windows and consider keeping pets inside while spraying occurs.
If skin or clothes are exposed, wash them with soap and water.
Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables with water as a general precautionary measure.
Cover small ornamental fish ponds.
Because the chemical breaks down quickly in sunlight and water, no special precautions are suggested for outdoor swimming areas.
DSHS contracts with Clarke, a private environmental products and services company, for aerial application of mosquito control products. The product is called Duet, which is labeled and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in outdoor and residential areas. The active ingredients are in the same chemical family as products currently being used for ground spraying in the Dallas area. The product would be applied at very low dosages – less than an ounce per acre – by small, twin-engine aircrafts flying at approximately 300 feet above ground overnight.
Texas has more than 380 state-confirmed cases of West Nile illness for 2012, including 16 related deaths. Texas is on track to have the most cases of West Nile illness since the disease first emerged in the state in 2002. Humans can contract West Nile virus from a mosquito bite. The virus can cause serious illness or death.
Public health officials continue to urge people to protect themselves by using insect repellent every time they go outside, drain standing water outside the home, wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering.