West Nile virus kills 17 in Texas, sickens hundreds
By AFP. The US state of Texas is battling an outbreak of the West Nile virus, with 17 deaths being blamed on the mosquito-borne disease, authorities said Wednesday.
Throughout the state, 381 people have been sickened since the start of the year, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Texas is on track to have the most cases of West Nile illness since the disease first emerged in the state in 2002,” it said in a statement.
The county incorporating Dallas, the ninth-largest city in the United States, has been the hardest hit, prompting the mayor to declare a local state of disaster.
“The City of Dallas is experiencing a widespread outbreak of mosquito-borne West Nile virus and has caused and appears likely to continue to cause widespread and severe illness and loss of life,” Mayor Michael Rawlings said in the proclamation of emergency that takes effect Wednesday. Read more from this story HERE.
Dallas Mayor declares state of emergency, orders aerial spraying for first time in almost 50 years
By Sarah Kutah. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Wednesday declared the city’s recent West Nile virus outbreak to be a state of emergency and authorized the first aerial spraying of insecticide in the city in more than 45 years.
Dallas and other North Texas cities have agreed to the rare use of aerial spraying from planes to combat the nation’s worst outbreak of West Nile virus so far this year. Dallas last had aerial spraying in 1966, when more than a dozen deaths were blamed on encephalitis.
More than 200 cases of West Nile and 10 deaths linked to the virus have been reported across Dallas County, where officials authorized aerial spraying last week. State health department statistics show 381 cases and 16 deaths related to West Nile statewide.
“The number of cases, the number of deaths are remarkable, and we need to sit up and take notice,” Rawlings said during a city council briefing. “We do have a serious problem right now.”
Aerial spraying for mosquitoes could begin Thursday evening, depending on weather conditions. The state health department, which will pay for the $500,000 aerial spraying with emergency funds, has a contract with national spraying company Clarke. Clarke officials have said two to five planes will be used in Dallas County. Read more from this story HERE.