Multiple planes perform aerial spraying over greater Dallas, Texas in effort to combat mosquitoes

Sunday, August 19, 2012

52,000 acres of land in Dallas county were sprayed aerially Thursday evening, in an effort to kill mosquitoes and reduce the spread of the sometimes-deadly West Nile Virus. More planes were slated to treat again on Friday. The state as a whole has seen more than 400 confirmed instances of the illness already this year.

Both the city's mayor, David Rawlings, and the county's Judge have executed a state of emergency. Each has rendered his support for the aerial action. The mayor told media, "I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we did not take action". However, Rawlings is reserving his statement about the treatments' effectiveness until a later time, to allow opportunity to assess the outcomes of the treatments. Some individuals have voiced fears over whether or not the chemicals might be harmful. One Dallas man told reporters he made no efforts to leave his home on Friday, and turned off his home's air conditioner, in an attempt to safeguard possible chemical threat to his family. Dr. Roger Nasci of the Centers for Disease Control told reporters, "It's something new there that has not been used in quite a number of years." He further stated, "Anything novel comes with that unknown factor."

Due to the scope of the problem, the Texas Health Department is intervening to supervise the action and to offset costs. The state's Health Commissioner told media, "This year is totally different from the experience Texas has had in the past". "If it's nuisance mosquitoes, we ask the city or county to pay part of that. But in the midst of this disease outbreak, it’s easier for us to go ahead and do it". Several Beechcraft King Air twin-engine planes sprayed on Thursday evening. The chemical used is synthetic pyrethroid; a specialist participating in the action told media the planes are normally loaded with chemicals just before take off, to minimize light exposure. One application costs approximately US$1 million.

File photo of US Air Force plane conducting aerial spraying over Louisiana.

Pilots were informed of certain exclusion zones, such as one containing the Preston Hollow home of former US President George W. Bush, and their flight plans factored in such information. The commissioner for the state's department of health services is encouraging citizens to continue applying insect spray repellant while outdoors. The state has had seventeen West Nile-related deaths this year.

Reports from Friday morning indicated no county residents had been medically treated for reactions. The county's judge told media he hadn't expected any medical reactions to the chemicals used. East Dallas residents were reported that morning in ordinary outdoor exercise activities.