Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring writes: Dallas area may use aerial spraying to control WNV threat. Excerpt:
Faced with a dramatic rise in West Nile virus illnesses and deaths and following medical advice, Dallas County, Tex., officials recently approved the use of aerial spraying for the first time in decades to control mosquito populations.
Aerial spraying, one of the most potent tools public health officials have to battle disease-carrying mosquitoes, hasn't been used in the Dallas area since 1966. Many residents oppose aerial spraying, out of fear that the chemicals could harm humans, pets, produce, and insect populations that don't cause diseases.
Other parts of the nation, such as Boston suburbs and counties in California, have aerial spraying events scheduled to battle the summertime rise in mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit.
Dallas County and surrounding areas are leading the nation this summer in the number of WNV illnesses. On Aug 8, the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services (DCHHS) announced its ninth death from WNV, in a patient who had been diagnosed with the neuroinvasive form of the disease. So far, 175 WNV infections have been reported in the county, according to the department's Aug 9 update. The county declared a public health emergency over WNV the same day.
The big spike in cases prompted the Dallas County Medical Society (DCMS) Community Emergency Response Committee on Aug 6 to unanimously recommend immediate aerial spraying, and it offered county health officials its assistance with communicating the need to department leaders and elected officials in the area.
In its letter to the DCDHHS, the medical society said the WNV outbreak in the Dallas area is a once-in-50-years medical event that rivals a 1966 outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis in Dallas that resulted in 168 infections and 16 deaths.
While the society commended county officials for requesting more resources for larvicides and ground-based spraying, the severity of the outbreak means there are areas of intense activity that haven't responded to conventional efforts. It suggested that aerial spraying could be targeted to areas with the highest viral activity in mosquitoes and humans, especially northern Dallas County.