Reporting Stephanie Lucero
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The threat of West Nile continues to spread across North Texas. The latest numbers show 57 confirmed human cases in Collin County, 148 in Denton County, 237 in Tarrant County and an astonishing 326 confirmed human cases in Dallas County. So far, more than 20 people have died from the virus.
Keeping that threat in check is not cheap. Spraying for the mosquitos that carry the virus can be very costly. But while several local communities are considering scaling back on spraying, one city is talking about building it into their fall budget. Number crunching has begun at Arlington City Hall, where officials are preparing to spray for mosquitos all the way into December.
“As long as there’s standing water for them to breed in, and as long as there’s algae in that water, there’s going to be mosquito problems,” said Brent Russell with Tarrant County Pest Control.
Arlington has only treated for mosquitos in targeted areas since mid-August, and officials estimate that the city has spent about $20,000 so far. But a new proposal would give the city options to dramatically expand those treatments. The city council voted Tuesday night to spend $100,000 for the trapping, testing and ground spraying of mosquitos. Arlington has opted out of aerial spraying.
This makes Arlington the first North Texas city to brace for the possibility that mosquito-breeding season could extend into the fall. “It’s a matter of being prepared for any contingency that we may have to have in place,” said Rebecca Rodriguez with the City of Arlington. “Right now, no one really knows how long we’ll be dealing with West Nile.”
According to experts, battling mosquitos and West Nile will get easier if North Texas gets a hard freeze this winter. Officials in Arlington listened to experts and looked at forcasted weather conditions when evaluating their decision. “This year has been real good for mosquitos,” said Russell. “The conditions have been just perfect for mosquitos.”
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