Dallas Co. to test for West Nile year round - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Dallas Co. to test for West Nile year round

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Dallas County Commissioners voted Tuesday to move ahead with a mosquito plan, but they said it's not the plan many residents are worried about.

Despite aerial spraying success in knocking down this year's historic West Nile virus outbreak, several people spoke out during the Dallas County Commissioners Court against future pesticide spraying in the county.

"That's part of the problem with the population of people in this room protesting aerial spraying because people simply don't know how to correlate any sort of symptom to any sort of pesticide exposure," said Stephanie Cigainero.

And many were concerned commissioners want to designate the county as a mosquito control district, making the aerial attack on the vectors the primary weapon or even a pre-emptive strike.

"If that's a concern that we'll have a Hawaii or California-type mosquito control district, no one had advocated for that yet," responded Judge Clay Jenkins.

But the county does want to hire of two additional microbiologists who would conduct surveillance and testing of mosquitoes for West Nile throughout the year.

"It's very important that we not be caught unaware and it's very important that we not be caught unaware again," said Commissioner Maurine Dickey.

The focus of the surveillance testing would be three zip codes in northeast Dallas County -- 75220, 75230 and 75238 – because 56 percent of the 388 human West Nile cases in the county this year came from those areas.

"And these two positions are going to make a difference when it comes to speed, when it comes to location, when it comes to creating awareness about this problem," said Commissioner Elba Garcia.

The testing will tell health officials in just two days when and where mosquitoes are carrying the virus as opposed to the seven to 10 days it takes when specimens are sent to state labs.

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