DALLAS (AP) - Officials said they won't spray by air for West Nile virus in Dallas County on Saturday night because of storms, but expect to resume the work Sunday evening.
Storms interrupted aerial spraying on Thursday and Friday nights as well. Dallas County spokeswoman Maria Arita said they were able to spray about 88,000 acres with pesticide that targets mosquitoes on Friday night. The remaining 222,000 acres are expected to be sprayed Sunday evening.
The virus spread by mosquitoes has left 10 dead and more than 200 sick in Dallas County, which is home to 2.5 million people and the city of Dallas. Officials say it will be a record year for West Nile virus, and about half of the United States' cases are in Texas.
The City of Dallas said in a news release that, on the recommendation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials, a second round of spraying will be done in Dallas County on Monday and Tuesday nights. That round is meant to kill larvae that hatched since the first spraying event.
At a Saturday news conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins asked people to pray for no rain and light winds Sunday through Tuesday evenings so that the planes could go up.
Although commonplace in other major cities, the pesticide efforts have provoked a debate in the Dallas area between health officials trying to quell the disease risk and people concerned about insecticidal mist drifting down from above.
The Environmental Protection Agency has said that the insecticide, Duet, poses no significant threat to humans or animals, though it is toxic to fish and other types of aquatic life.
"There have been no spikes of any sort of respiratory illnesses at our hospitals," Jenkins said, adding that not only had Dallas County not seen any problems from the spraying, but "neither have the other cities that have done this for the last 20 years."
Most people infected with West Nile virus won't get sick, but about one in 150 people will develop the severe form of the illness. Symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.