Bad Weather Delays West Nile Spraying in Texas

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This year's West Nile virus outbreak is the worst ever this early in the season and the weather is exacerbating the problem.
    
Hot dry temperatures across much of the country are providing the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
    
To make matters worse, weekend rain delayed efforts in states like Texas to fight the mosquitoes with pesticides both on the ground and from the air.

The Lone Star State remains ground zero in the virus outbreak, accounting for more than half of the total cases.

"Anywhere you go pretty much, they're everywhere, always biting," Austin, Texas, resident Sarah Hawes said.    

City officials there are using a controversial aerial spraying method to kill the mosquitoes, but rainy weather in Dallas grounded the planes after only a few rounds.

"I'm in a tight window because we have people dying," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. "We have to have a sense of urgency to get this done now. That's the most important thing."
    
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 26 deaths so far and nearly 700 confirmed cases -- that's more than three times the average for this time of year.

Hal Dalton is fighting to get his life back to normal after contracting the virus. He says it started off feeling like the flu, and now he's in a wheelchair.

"I went to bed that night and the next morning I woke up and I was blind," he recalled.

Health officials everywhere are encouraging people to take the following precautions against mosquitoes:

  • Wear long sleeves whenever possible.
  • Always use mosquito repellent when going outside.
  • Be sure to get rid of any standing water around your home.

Most people infected with the West Nile virus never even know it. Only about 20 percent experience its symptoms, which can include high fever, headaches, joint pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In about 1 percent of cases, the disease attacks the patient's brain and spinal cord.

The virus normally attacks the elderly and unhealthy, but this year health officials say they're seeing some unlikely victims.

"We are starting to see younger patients get neuro-invasive disease and we don't know why yet. We will to study that as we move through the epidemic," Dr. Edward Dominguez, an infectious disease specialist, said.

More than 80 percent of West Nile cases are concentrated in six states: Texas, California, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

For More Information:

West Nile Virus

Related Story:

Texas Hit Hard by Deadly West Nile Virus

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