Dallas is currently experiencing a major outbreak of West Nile virus.  20 people have died from West Nile this year in Texas, 10 in Dallas County. Hundreds have been infected.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins have declared a state of emergency due to the spread of West Nile.

To fight the virus, which is carried and spread by mosquitoes, the Texas Health Department is paying to have Dallas County sprayed with insecticide.  But there are many who question both the safety and effectiveness of spraying.

If Grand Rapids were to ever experience a major West Nile outbreak, would you approve of spraying aerial insecticide to control it?

To answer that question, we need to know how safe the spray is.  Alaskadispatch.com reports:

Aircraft are flying at low level (300 feet), spraying a mosquito-control product called “Duet.” Officials say the substance – which has been approved for both ground and aerial application by the EPA – is safe, spread in low volume (less than one ounce per acre).

But there is some pushback to aerial spraying, which critics say is not wholly effective (it kills adult mosquitoes but not larva) while also killing beneficial insects, including honeybees, ladybugs, and dragonflies, as well as fish, bats, birds, and geckos that prey on mosquitoes.

David Lakey, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner, says aerial spraying is “a safe and very effective tool” to control mosquitoes.

Opinions vary, but government sources continue to report that the spray is safe for humans.  Still caution must be exercised when the spray is being applied.

Weighing the risk/reward between the spray and the chance of the spread of West Nile virus is tricky, but I think there comes a point where it makes sense to use the spray and Dallas has reached that point.  Let's hope we never do.


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