FORT WORTH, Texas — Tarrant County officials discussed the possibility of aerial spraying for mosquitoes Tuesday, after an increase in cases of West Nile Virus.
Last week, there were two reported cases of West Nile in Tarrant County.
During Tuesday’s county commissioners' meeting, Public Health Director Vinny Taneja announced seven more reported cases, bringing the county total to nine reported West Nile cases, including one death.
“We’re starting our due-diligence on aerial spraying questions,” Taneja said. “And we’ve had some conversations with the CDC and DSHS: Both have agreed that it would be wise to consider aerial spraying to knock this mosquito population down. We’re developing the target zone maps. We’ve got some preliminary estimates from our vendor to see what that would cost. And we’re looking to engage our city partners to see where they might be interested or may have anything to share with us regarding that.”
In 2012, Dallas County took to the skies for the first time in 40 years to attack mosquitoes from the air. Dallas County Commissioners approved aerial spraying again in 2016.
Tarrant County officials considered aerial spraying in 2016.
However, Tarrant County officials told WFAA that the county did not actually do any aerial spraying in 2012 or 2016. A county spokesperson clarified that some cities that straddle the county lines did their own spraying.
Critics of aerial spraying argue it harms the environment, as well as bees and pets.
Taneja said spray trucks have increased their frequency, spraying three nights in a row in Tarrant County. They’re also asking residents to spray their own backyards.
“Spray trucks are getting the streets and they’re getting the front yards, but they don’t get up over the fences and into the back yards,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said.
“If this number doesn’t come down from a mosquito positivity rate, we are heading into an outbreak of West Nile,” Taneja said.