At the urging of the Denton County Health Department, Denton County Judge Mary Horn filed a local disaster declaration with the state Wednesday in order to get assistance from the Department of State Health Services in the form of aerial spraying to fight the West Nile virus outbreak.
Denton County has recorded 105 cases of West Nile virus this year, and the number of cases continues to increase daily. The county has the highest rate of West Nile virus per capita than any other county in the U.S., according to health officials.
“We are very concerned at the number, rate, and severity of cases of West Nile virus among Denton County residents”, said Bing Burton, Ph.D., director of Denton County Health Department.
Ground spraying and the use of larvacide in ponds and standing water has not been successful in containing the disease outbreak, health officials said.
“Although these (existing) strategies, coupled with education and the importance of personal protective measures will remain an important part of Denton County’s disease response, the geographic advantages of aerial spraying may be the most effective means of combating WNV. It is believed that the ability of aerial spraying to cover very large areas of the county at one time may provide the needed boost in preventive measures to reduce the growing number of cases occurring,” said Burton.
The pesticide used in aerial spraying is very similar to the one employed in ground spraying. It is not a more concentrated dose, and it has been declared safe for humans and pets by the Centers for Disease Control, health officials said.
The declaration of a Health Emergency allows the county to request state and federal resources. However, as in Dallas County, the incorporated municipalities in Denton County will determine whether they wish to be included in the spraying.
Locally, the Flower Mound Town Council held an emergency meeting Thursday night and voted to opt-in to aerial spraying.
Highland Village, Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon and Double Oak are expected to hold special meetings in the coming days to determine if they want to participate in aerial spraying.