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 Mayor Mike Rawlings 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.
Our entry includes a 7:33 segment with portions or all of eight reports plus 17:27 from our hour-long live program.