Irving could get second chance at aerial spraying after miscommunication

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 28 at 2:13 AM

IRVING — Dallas County says aerial spraying appears to be working. Preliminary results show fewer mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.

A full report from the Centers for Disease Control won't be complete for at least two months.

The City of Irving has not taken part in the county's aerial spraying program. That decision has a lot to do with a miscommunication.

There are 19 human cases and two deaths linked to West Nile in Irving. William Miller, the husband of one of those who died, has just learned that he, too, has the virus.

Miller found out Monday that he has been battling the virus for more than two weeks.

"My main concern about all of this is that something come out of these interviews and discussions that will help somebody, somewhere," he said. "A little late for me, but it might help somebody."

The City of Irving has been spraying for mosquitoes on the ground in Miller's neighborhood, but his family wants to know why the city didn't go ahead with aerial spraying.

News 8 has learned the city did request to take its West Nile battle to the air.

"We did opt in," said city spokesman Chris Hopper. "We want to target-spray certain areas, so that has been our position from the beginning."

It turns out that Irving was denied for the initial round of aerial spraying because it did not meet certain requirements.

Each city taking part had to agree to target at least 5,000 acres for spraying; Irving agreed to only 3,800 acres.

According to Clarke, the company contracted by Dallas County to administer the aerial insecticide, that policy was waived for the second and third rounds of aerial spraying — but Irving was not notified about the shift.

"When the minimums were waived in subsequent options, areas with spray blocks as small as 175 acres were sprayed," said Clarke spokeswoman Laura McGowan in a written statement. "Because Irving had expressed their desire to continue their ground operation, we did not revisit the issue with them."

"It's very disappointing to us," Hopper said. "A little communication regarding that would have helped us further refine our data and give us an opportunity to opt in."

Clarke is now offering Irving a chance to opt in when its planes spray in Denton County. Both sides plan to talk on Tuesday.

The family of William and Dema Miller believes the choice is clear.

"I don't know what the costs are; I don't know what the decision to spray is based on; but I would think that they would get in their little airplanes and start flying immediately," said Greg Miller, the victim's son.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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