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Dallas County West Nile-Related Deaths Climbing

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CBS DFW (con't)

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DALLAS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – The number of Dallas County residents who have died from West Nile Virus related health issues now stands at 12.

Monday officials with Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) confirmed another death in the county.

Officials say the hospital patient lived in the 75060 zip code.

Since the first of the year, Dallas County has reported nearly 300 human cases of West Nile infection.

The county has fought infestation with ground and aerial spraying, but still say the threat should be considered a major public health concern.

Last week, specialists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came to North Texas to help in the West Nile battle. Officials with the CDC have reportedly said the West Nile outbreak in Dallas County is the worst in the United States and are promising $3 million to help pay for aerial spraying. Of all the human West Nile Virus infections reported in the country 27-percent have been in Dallas County.

CDC representatives are also analyzing the effectiveness of ground and aerial spraying in Dallas County. Local leaders say they want those report results before moving forward with further plans to battle the problem.

The preliminary results of that CDC report are expected by Friday. The official, detailed report won’t be in until November.

The City of Dallas continues ground spraying Monday in the White Rock Lake-area and in southwest Dallas.  In taking some of its own direction, the city upended some 14,000 roll around trash containers over the weekend.  They are stored near downtown and had accumulated thousands of gallons of water in them from recent rains.

On Monday, city officials urged residents to take a similar approach.  “The best biological effort we can have is have humans dump water,” first assistant Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez told council members.

On Monday the entire city council received its first full briefing on West Nile.  Members were told the focus now will be on eliminating standing water.  “Now the focus of Code Inspection for the moment is this issue,” Gonzalez assured them.   But they also need homeowners to inspect their own homes and yards as well.

Mayor Mike Rawlings even urged homeowners to turn off landscape irrigation systems.

“As much as it’s rained here, and how deep the rain has been, you don’t need to sprinkle as much,” he said.

Meanwhile, the City of Denton has decided to opt out of countywide aerial spraying for mosquitoes.

By a vote of 4 to 1, the Denton City Council decided not to participate in the aerial attack on the West Nile Virus.

Denton County Judge Mary Horn signed an emergency order last week calling for the spraying but said she gave cities the choice to opt out.

“They’ve [city of Denton] had a pretty aggressive ground spraying effort going on and by a vote of the city council that’s what they elected to do,” Judge Horn explained.

The judge went on to say that she believes that aerial spraying is essential in the fight against West Nile.

“A lot of cities have done ground spraying and I’m glad they did,” she said. “But if they go through a neighborhood it does real fine in their front yard, but it doesn’t get to the backyard. So the effectiveness of the aerial spraying is why it’s important.”

The majority of cities in Denton County have opted in for aerial spraying. The City of Lewisville, which has been called the epicenter of West Nile in the county, will decide Monday night.

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