by Jay Gormley, CBS 11

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins climbed aboard a spray truck Monday night to witness the first of three straight nights of intensive mosquito spraying from the ground. Health officials are targeting North Dallas neighborhoods that sit just east and west of North Central Expressway.

Earlier in the day, Judge Jenkins along with Dallas County health officials met with representatives from several cities located north of Interstate-30 to debate the pros and cons of aerial spraying. “Because 80 percent of our West Nile cases are north of I-30, the first cities that will be looked at are those cities with the highest amount of human cases,” explained Jenkins.

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It’s now up to local leaders in each city to decide by Wednesday if they want the county to spray their cities from the air. The mayor of Garland has already called for an emergency council meeting for Tuesday afternoon. “Right now, my position is to recommend we go forward with aerial spraying,” said Mayor Ronald Jones. “I know it’s going to create a lot of negative comments, but I got to consider the lives and the health of my citizens.”

Those cities that sign up for aerial spraying will likely see it happen late this week.

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(credit: CBS 11 News)

There are still concerns that it poses a serious health risk. Health officials, however, maintain that the insecticide used from the air is the same sprayed from trucks on the ground.

Meanwhile, state health officials are also weighing in by encouraging fast action to combat the escalating number of cases. “Right now, Texas has half the West Nile cases in the nation, and Dallas County has half the cases in the state of Texas,” explained David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. According to Lakey, about a quarter of all the West Nile cases in the United States are in Dallas County.

State health officials said that they will deploy anywhere from two to five airplanes to cover the county. The number of planes will depend on how many cities sign up for spraying. Highland Park and University Park have already approved aerial spraying.

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