Dallas Attempts to Spray Away West Nile

Dallas using aerial insecticide spray to fight west nile virus

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) What do you do when your city is under assault by flying insects, infiltrating parks, backyards, homes, and carrying a potentially deadly virus? You take to the air.

That's the plan hatched by city officials in Dallas, Texas.

After 10 deaths and over 200 sicknesses, the mayor has declared a state of emergency, and launched a defense with planes spraying insecticide over the area.

"Take precautions to avoid mosquitos bites."

Dallas has not used aerial spraying since 1966. That was around the time when worries about the environmental and human health effects of chemical spraying led to greater caution around widespread use of insecticides.

But the city has decided that aerial spraying is an appropriate measure for the severity of the outbreak. West Nile has been reported across the country, but North Texas has been hit the hardest.

State health officials have said that Texas is on track to have the worst season of West Nile in history. The virus first appeared in the United State in 1999.

"I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we did not take action," Mayor Mike Rawlings told the Associated Press.

Spraying began on Thursday, August 16. The city contracted with a private company to load two small twin-engine planes with an insecticide called Duet Dual-Action Adulticide.

The active chemical is synthetic pyrethroid. Pyrethroids are common chemicals used to kill insects, and are approved by the EPA.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, pyrethroids are found in household products but can only be applied over a wide area by by public health officials and trained personnel.

Typically, mosquito control professionals use an ultra low-volume (ULV) spray, mixing the chemical with oil or water. These sprayers release tiny droplets that remain in the air and kill adult mosquitos “on contact.”

Residents of Dallas and the surrounding areas have expressed concerns about the safety of the aerial spraying. But state and local health officials have made assurances that it does not affect humans or animals.

The planes' first trip was cut short by rain on Thursday night. Several towns remain to be sprayed in the eastern part of Dallas County.
 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 17, 2012
Last Updated:
August 18, 2012