Our 7:33 composite entry includes portions or all of eight reports:
- The opening segment of our live hour-long program
- A segment that aired when West Nile claimed its first victim.
- A physician disabled by West Nile talks about health effects
- Information on how schools handled outdoor activities
- A health expert explaining the origin of the virus
- Details on aerial spraying and the chemical to be used
- A follow-up story on effects of the spraying
In 2012, Texas became the national epicenter for cases of human infection from the West Nile virus, and nowhere did the mosquito-borne disease claim more victims than in Dallas County.
Statewide more than 80 Texans died and nearly 2,000 became severely ill. Dallas’s mayor declared a state of emergency and authorized the city’s first aerial spraying of pesticides since 1966.
KERA was already covering the West Nile story in July when the virus claimed its first victim of the season. Our station made a commitment to educate the public about the illness; recommended precautions; chemicals used in the spraying, and area plans for eliminating mosquitoes.
We also investigated concerns about the environmental and health effects of the spraying.
KERA’s news team produced dozens of stories; lengthy interviews with health experts; a talk-show discussion about tropical diseases and a live, hour-long call-in that aired as the aerial spraying began.