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Denton County Recommends Aerial Spraying; Lewisville Council to Discuss Monday Night

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2012/8/22 23:20:00 (3635 reads)

Open in new windowAs the number of cases of West Nile virus has continued to increase in North Texas, Denton County Judge Mary Horn has declared a health emergency Wednesday afternoon, making the option of aerial pesticide spraying available as a measure to control mosquitos that carry the disease. The declaration requests assistance from the state.

The Denton County Health Department is recommending aerial spraying, saying that ground spraying and the use of larvacide has not been successful in containing the outbreak. “We are very concerned at the number, rate, and severity of cases of West Nile Virus among Denton County residents”, stated Bing Burton, Ph.D., director of Denton County Health Department. Most of the Denton County cases of West Nile have been South of Lewisville Lake.

Precinct 3 Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell, whose precinct covers a large portion of Southern Denton County said this afternoon that the county health department staff would be meeting Thursday to discuss plans for spraying. Horn's order is effective for 7 days, after which time, the commissioners must approve any extension.

Mitchell says she is in favor of spraying, due to the success of the program in Dallas County. There have been 112 cases of West Nile reported in Denton County this year, with one of those resulting in a death. Of those cases, 27 have been reported in Lewisville.

Cities would be asked whether they want to opt-in for aerial spraying. The Lewisville City Council will take up the issue at next Monday night's special meeting. This meeting is open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. on Monday, August 27th. Mayor Dean Ueckert said that he is in favor of the aerial spraying. "I've talked to the health department and doctors, and they all say that this is not harmful to people. There is no record of anyone being treated for any illness related to spraying," said Ueckert. Ueckert also noted that aerial spraying is nothing new, and that it is done in the Northern states quite often. As Mayor, Ueckert has no vote on the issue, unless there is a tie, which is possible at Monday's meeting due to the planned absence of one of the members.

But Lewisville city staff and some council members are skeptical about the effectiveness of aerial spraying. City Manager Claude King said that they could best be described as "honest skeptics" when it comes to aerial spraying. "We'll see what kind of information the County can produce on the effectiveness," said King. King said that their overall concern was with how effective it might be in an urban area where there are a spaces for mosquitos to hide. "We don't want to give citizens a false sense of security or comfort by spraying," said King, who emphasized that their position is that the most effective protection against mosquitos is for people to take personal precautions, which they can do without government assistance.

Councilman Neil Ferguson said he is not convinced that aerial spraying would do much, other than make residents feel assured that someone is doing something. Ferguson is concerned about possible health effects of the pesticide itself on humans as well as wildlife. Ferguson says that citizens need to take some personal responsibility for taking precautions. Councilman T.J. Gilmore is also leaning against it, saying that he doubts it would be effective, though he has requested some data on Dallas County's before-and-after. Gilmore will not be at Monday night's special meeting due to a previous engagement. Councilman Leroy Vaughn said he was leaning in favor of spraying, but he had two questions: "Is it effective?" and "Is it safe?" "As long as the product is generally accepted as okay, then I would say go ahead and do it," said Vaughn.

Councilman Rudy Durham said that he supports the idea of using aerial spraying. "Anything we can do to protect citizens on health and safety issues, I'm going to be for that. I don't think there's any other option for us to do. Just like the localized truck spraying, I think the aerial spraying would do that much more," said Durham.

Lewisville had conducted ground spraying once, and is already set to do ground spraying again on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, in most parts of the city North of Bellaire, and West of I-35E. Ground spraying will be conducted at night, starting at 10 p.m. King said that if the City Council chooses to go with Denton County's aerial spraying plan, then the city would likely step back from its efforts at ground spraying, but would continue with its current efforts of testing for mosquitos - a task currently being handled by Lewisville Animal Control

If the county does conduct aerial spraying, it would be approved and funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and would be performed by the state's contractor, according to Bob Martinez, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Denton County Health department. "The contractor will determine what pesticide to use, but if it is the same contractor used in Dallas County, then it is likely to be Duet", said Martinez. Martinez said the pesticide is approved by the EPA as well as the Centers for Disease Control. The pesticide is mostly effective when it comes in direct contact with flying insects, but would have some effect with insects that are under brush, trees, or hiding in the grass, explained Martinez. The pesticide is said to quickly degrade in the environment, lasting only about 5 hours before breaking down into harmless components.

City officials will distribute free larvicide "dunk" tablets to residents on a limited basis on Aug. 23-24. Residents can visit Central Fire Station, 188 N. Valley Parkway, between 5 and 9 p.m. either day to receive two free tablets per household.

This is a developing story. We will update it as we receive more information.

Related Links:
- Denton County West Nile Virus Information
- City of Lewisville West Nile Virus Information

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