Dallas Kicks Off Aggressive West Nile Campaign

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The City of Dallas this week kicks off an aggressive plan to fight the West Nile virus.

City officials said last year’s outbreak of the virus that killed 17 people in Dallas County caught the city off-guard.

“I don’t think we were doing as good of job of getting people to pay attention,” said Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata.

This year the city is increasing efforts to stop the virus by using three times as many mosquito traps, paying extra for lab results to be returned faster, and by adding an additional pesticide spraying truck.

The City of Dallas said it will also be responding to calls of standing water within 24 hours.  Last year such complaints were responded to within 10 days.

However, Zapata said the key to its efforts will be public awareness.

“Communication is paramount,” he said.  “We have to tell people more about West Nile.”

Last month, the city started an educational campaign with signs, billboards, and brochures advising residents to be aware of the dangers of standing water.

Later this month the city will spend $25,000 for radio public service announcements.

“We need more of that,” said Dallas resident Bill Dickerson.

Dickerson’s mother, Mary Beth Miller, died ten years ago from the West Nile virus.  Her case was one of the first in Texas.

Ever since her death, Dickerson has campaigned for the City of Dallas to do more.

“It’s an unbelievable disease.  There’s no cure,” said Dickerson.  “There is nothing they can give you to make it better.”

Dickerson said signs warning about the dangers of standing water should be on every major street corner.  He also would like the city to air more public service announcements on the radio as well as television.

“It’s preventable,” he said.  “This disease is totally preventable.  There’s no reason for it to happen.”

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