West Nile Spraying Delayed by Rain in Texas

By Luis Cabrera

August 18, 2012–‘Crop duster’ aeroplanes loaded with pesticides to kill mosquitoes and larvae were grounded by rain in Texas today. The effort to combat the outbreak of the West Nile virus will have to wait until weather clears to resume.

Dallas County has declared a state of emergency with 242 West Nile cases so far
including 10 deaths. A statewide Texas surge in cases has hit the Dallas’ area hardest.

Texas is reporting 552 cases of the deadly disease and 21 deaths, by far the highest in the country according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Unusual weather conditions that started with a mild winter and followed by a rainy spring are being blamed for the increment in mosquito population.

Planes were called off at 12:20 am local time this morning, amid a storm that hindered spraying efforts. Maria Arita, Dallas County Spokesperson, said that with more rain in the forecast it is not clear when the dusters will be back in the skies.

A meeting has been scheduled for noon tomorrow on which local officials will discuss the plans to resume pesticide aerial application.

The mosquito poison, called Duet, is a pyrethrin-based chemical used to eliminate the carriers of the West Nile virus.

Some spraying did take place before the planes were forced to land by the rain. The aerial application has been the focus of controversy due to health concerns for people. Before Friday, it hadn’t been used in Texas since the late 1960’s.

Some residents voiced over their concerns at a city council meeting, and have thus far collected more than 1,900 signatures opposing the mosquito-killing tactic.

Officials in Dallas County said they have consulted with experts and counterparts in other cities like Sacramento, who have used spraying for years with no visible health risks.

Source: Los Angeles Times.

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