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Roanoke, Haslet opt for aerial spraying for mosquitoes

08/28/2012 11:23 PM

08/29/2012 11:28 AM

The Roanoke and Haslet city councils both voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept Denton County's offer of aerial spraying for mosquitoes in the ongoing campaign against West Nile virus.

The councils of Westlake, Trophy Club and Southlake on Monday night also joined the Denton County program. Because Denton County declared a public health emergency last week, the spraying will be covered by state and federal funding at no cost to the cities.

The five cities straddle the Tarrant-Denton county line.

Aerial spraying is the most aggressive, and controversial, of the mosquito control measures available. Tarrant County public health authorities have not recommended it.

Haslet officials had originally declined the Denton County offer. Mayor Bob Golden sent an email to Denton County Judge Mary Hart on Thursday saying only a small uninhabited triangle of Haslet is in Denton County, an area adjacent to the northwest edge of the Alliance Airport runway.

But after learning that the offer included spraying the entire city, the Haslet council called an emergency meeting for Tuesday and joined in.Southlake has recorded six human West Nile disease cases, which translates into an infection rate of 22 per 100,000 residents, said Bob Martinez, Denton County emergency preparedness coordinator.

Denton County's infection rate, one of the highest in the state, is 16 per 100,000 residents, Martinez said.

"August and September are typically the busiest months for West Nile virus," Martinez said. "In a typical year, we would expect at least another month of activity and this has been far from a typical year. By spraying, if we can cut down on another month of disease, it's worth it."

Ginger Awtry, director of communications for Westlake, said Denton County officials indicated the aerial spraying would be Thursday and Friday.

A different approach

Tarrant County health officials are taking a different approach.

During a briefing for Tarrant County commissioners Tuesday, Dr. Sandra Parker, Tarrant County Public Health medical authority, said aerial spraying in Tarrant County is unwarranted.

"The number of cases by the onset of illness, date and incidence rate has shown a downward trend for the past two weeks," Parker said. "The information that we've gathered so far on targeted mosquito pools is that [ground] spraying has been effective."

Tarrant County cities that have employed targeted ground spraying include Arlington, Bedford, Benbrook, Euless, Fort Worth, Haltom City, Hurst, Mansfield, North Richland Hills and Roanoke.

Fort Worth added two areas to its ground spraying program Tuesday night and will continue spraying through Thursday.

Based on test results received late Friday, the city decided to spray a new area in far north Fort worth in the northern portion of ZIP code 76137 and a southern part of ZIP code 76244, code compliance spokeswoman Diane Covey said. Spraying was already under way in other parts of those ZIP codes.

Fort Worth hasn't conducted aerial spraying because the human cases are not as widespread as in Dallas County, Covey said.

Staff writer Terry Evans contributed to this report.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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