West Nile in Dallas County: 'We cannot let our guard down'

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by WALT ZWIRKO

WFAA

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 23 at 5:53 PM

DALLAS — Health officials said Thursday there are 10 new confirmed reports of West Nile virus in Dallas County, bringing the total to 288 cases.

"We're a long way from the end of West Nile season, I want to be very clear on that," said Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson at a hastily-called news conference.

He said Thursday will be the last scheduled night of aerial spraying in Dallas County unless testing indicates that additional applications will be required. Duncanville, Seagoville, Wilmer, Mesquite (south of Interstate 30), Ferris, a portion of Garland, Rowlett and Sunnyvale are included in Thursday's aerial spraying pattern of 82,000 acres.

Ground spraying will continue in cities that opted out of the aerial campaign and in parts of the county that require further treatment.

"We cannot let our guard down; we cannot totally eradicate our mosquito population," he warned, saying that spraying activities will continue.

Health officials said more than 50 percent of the confirmed cases are "neuroinvasive," the most severe form of the disease. They urged citizens to continue to be proactive — wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants; using insect repellent containing DEET; and avoiding outdoor activity at dusk and dawn when the disease-carrying mosquitoes are most active.

Dr. Thompson added that despite the aerial spraying campaign, the health emergency could last another month or longer.

"We're not ready to declare victory," he said. "We'll be dealing with the West Nile virus outbreak through the end of September."

E-mail wzwirko@wfaa.com

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