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Aerial spraying begins in Denton, parts of Tarrant

A Hurst resident in his 80s has died of a West Nile-related illness, the fifth Tarrant County death caused by the virus this year, public health officials announced Thursday.

In Denton County, aerial spraying was postponed because of high winds associated with the remnants of Hurricane Isaac.

The spraying area includes five Tarrant County cities that straddle the Denton County border.

Spraying will likely resume tonight and continue Saturday because the forecast looks ideal, said Laura McGowan, a spokeswoman for spraying contractor Clarke Mosquito.

Southlake, Roanoke, Haslet, Trophy Club and Westlake are the cities that joined the Denton County aerial spraying, which will take place between 9 p.m. and the early morning, McGowan said.

Denton and Fort Worth are among the 12 cities that declined the aerial spraying offer, according to the county's website.

High school football games are scheduled tonight in the spraying area, but the pilots have been told to avoid stadium areas until people leave, said Bob Martinez, the Denton County Health Department's emergency preparedness coordinator.

People should not be alarmed if aircraft look as if they are spraying above the stadiums, McGowan said.

"They may be treating an area two or three miles away," she said.

"The good news is that there are actually fewer football games on Friday than there were on Thursday."

Among the games in the affected area will be Timber Creek vs. Byron Nelson at Northwest ISD Stadium in Justin.

All five victims had

underlying problems

The Hurst man who died had underlying health conditions, said Vanassa Joseph, Tarrant County public health spokeswoman. So did the previous four victims.

No further information was available because of federal medical privacy laws.

Fort Worth officials had an informational meeting Thursday night about possible ground spraying in the 76116 and 76109 ZIP codes in near southwest Fort Worth.

Officials are awaiting test results before deciding whether to spray.

Human cases have been reported in the two ZIP codes, a city official said.

Ground spraying in north Fort Worth in parts of the 76137 and 76244 ZIP codes was expected to end Thursday.

The number of reported human cases in Tarrant County remains 232. Denton County has reported 141 human cases and two deaths as of Thursday.

Outbreak unlikely to

worsen after Isaac

Federal health officials said Wednesday that they do not expect the West Nile outbreak to worsen after Hurricane Isaac.

"These hurricanes and flood events tend to disrupt the entire ecology of the area and thus interrupt this natural transmission cycle between birds and mosquitoes," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mosquitoes get the West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds.

Then they breed in small pools of water, like what collects in a spare tire in a back yard.

"When you get a big rainfall event, many of those small pools are simply washed away," Petersen said.

Health officials don't know what caused the outbreak this summer or why Dallas County in particular has become the hardest-hit region in the country, with 309 cases and 12 deaths.

More than 437,000 acres in Dallas County were twice sprayed from the air.

"The initial data [on the spraying] that has been reported looks promising," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A complete analysis is not available, he said.

As of Tuesday, the CDC had received reports of 1,590 cases of the virus nationwide, including 66 deaths, up from the 1,118 cases and 41 deaths reported to the agency last week.

CDC officials said they expect the reported numbers to increase through October.

Staff writer Nicholas Sakelaris contributed to this report, which includes material from The New York Times.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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