DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) –A public health emergency will lead to aerial spraying for mosquitos in the battle against the West Nile virus. Drivers in Dallas County will see signs warning of the spraying, which is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night. This will be the first time since 1966 that aerial spraying has been used in Dallas County.

dallas spraymap Dallas County Set To Begin Aerial Spraying

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Two planes arrived in Dallas on Wednesday afternoon for use in the aerial spraying process. Those planes might be seen over Dallas County early on Thursday as pilots perform test runs, but chemical will not be released until later at night. Over the coming days, the planes will cover about 49,000 acres in a drastic measure to control the mosquito population and curb the spread of the West Nile virus.

There have been more than 200 confirmed human cases of the West Nile virus in Dallas County alone so far this year, and over 10 deaths across all of North Texas. State health officials have said that this represents 25 percent of the nation’s West Nile cases.

Dallas is just one of several cities that will be sprayed. The list also includes Highland Park, University Park, Addison, Mesquite, Carrollton, Coppell, Richardson, Grand Prairie, Farmers Branch and Garland. Each area takes two to four hours to completely spray, and all targeted areas are expected to be completed over the course of four nights. A second round of spraying could be done next week, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

There are some safety reminders for any residents living in areas where the aerial spraying will take place. First, try to avoid being outside when the planes are overhead, and bring your pets inside. If you have a fish pond, keep it covered. If you are exposed to the spray, use soap and water on both your skin and clothes. And be sure to rinse any homegrown fruits and vegetables before eating them.

The aerial spraying plan means that ground spraying has been suspended in areas north of Interstate-30. Those ground spraying trucks are now set to be deployed south of the highway, where Dallas County health officials are launching another ground attack on Thursday night.

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