Where did West Nile come from? What are the implications of aerial spraying? Here’s a roundup of information on the virus and how it’s affecting North Texas.
On Thursday, Dallas County launched an aerial attack against mosquitoes for the first time in 40 years. We invited area experts and leaders into the studio to answer listeners' questions about potential health and environmental impacts of aerial spraying for the KERA call-in special Fighting West Nile. Listen to the hour-long program here.
For more on transmission, symptoms and prevention of West Nile, consult these resources:
Where has aerial spraying taken place and what is the plan going forward?
The cities that have opted to spray are Addison, Carrollton, Coppell, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Garland, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, University Park, Mesquite, and Richardson. Here's a map drawn up by the City of Dallas of areas that have been treated or are slated to be sprayed:
To share your own observations of how the aerial spraying process is impacting the environment in North Texas, fill out this survey issued by researchers at A&M University.
What is Dallas County spraying from planes?
What is Tarrant County doing?
Tarrant County has begun ground spraying for mosquitoes carrying West Nile, and says it will consider aerial spraying if current efforts aren’t effective.
Currently, ground spraying is occurring or is planned in parts of Bedford, Benbrook, Euless, Fort Worth, Hurst and North Richland Hills.
Tarrant officials say their situation is different than Dallas County’s because fewer of the West Nile cases are the more serious neuroinvasive form. And according to the city, its victims are spread out so ground spraying is more effective, while aerial applications are recommended for larger areas with a higher concentration of illness.
Below is a map of proposed spray areas for Fort Worth.
What is the situation in North Texas as compared to other places?
Dr. David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, briefed city leaders from more than a dozen north Dallas County cities about aerial spraying.
“Right now Texas has half the West Nile cases in the nation,” Lakey said. “Dallas County has half of the cases in the state of Texas. So, about a quarter of all the cases in the United States are in this county. So, this isn’t business as usual.”
Read the rest of BJ Austin’s report on that initial briefing here.
According to the CDC, 693 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported to CDC ArboNET from 32 states as of Wednesday afternoon. The CDC site has a map of activity by state and statistics for each.
Where did the West Nile virus originate?
According to the CDC, West Nile virus originated in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937 – not in Egypt. A feverish adult woman presented that first documented case. In 1957, a massive West Nile outbreak in Israel tied the virus with meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The U.S. didn’t see its first West Nile case until 1999, which is the same year North America saw encephalitis cases in humans and horses for the first time.