FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the worst West Nile virus seasons in years pushed Tarrant County leaders Tuesday to approve a plan for aerial spraying for mosquitoes.
The spraying would be concentrated above a dozen cities in the northeast section of the county.
It’s the area where traps are routinely capturing the highest percentage of virus-positive mosquitoes, in a county that leads the state in positive samples and confirmed human cases in 2020.
The county health director said the aerial spraying is not a certainty, but now they have permission to go at any time.
“If the need is there, again, we will act,” said Vinny Taneja.
The county has given city leaders until tomorrow to indicate if they are on board with the plan. Cities are being asked to share half of the $345,311 cost.
Three people have died from the virus this year and a total of at least 14 people in Tarrant County have tested positive.
Nine of the cases have been in the northeast part of the county and Taneja said more possible cases are under investigation.
State data reports show at least half the cases have been the more severe, neuroinvasive form of the virus.
While trucks have sprayed neighborhoods routinely this summer after positive samples are found, and expanded the area they cover, spraying will cover open areas that chemicals from trucks don’t reach.
aneja said they will also use a different chemical, called Naled, that penetrates vegetation better than what is sprayed from trucks.
Taneja said recent rainfall did help reduce the positivity rate across the county, washing out areas of standing water used for breeding zones.
The rate though is still higher than the peak in 2016.
If additional rainfall and cooler weather provide more natural help to reducing the mosquito population, it’s possible the county still may not go through with the spraying plan.
The county considered aerial spraying in 2016, and in 2012, but never used it.