Harris County Begins Aerial Mosquito Spraying

Harris County Mosquito Control Director Dr. Rudy Bueno
Two more people have died of West Nile Virus in the Houston area. That brings the human death count up to three people — with more than a dozen infections. Harris County officials have ordered aerial spraying for mosquitoes in the west and northwest parts of the county.

All summer long, Harris County uses insecticide trucks to spray through neighborhoods.

But about once a year, they send up planes to do aerial spraying in areas where West Nile virus is more active.

Harris County Mosquito Control Director Dr. Rudy Bueno says starting tomorrow evening, they'll spray about 63,000 acres by air.

The spraying will take place primarily north and west of the 290/Beltway 8 intersection.

"It really helps to supplement our ground operations, because we've been spraying since the first part of June. But Harris County is a large county, I mean it's close to 1,800 square miles. It really helps to have the aerial operation because we get really good coverage in those hot spots, but at the same time it helps to release trucks to those other areas where we're finding West Nile activity."

So far, the county has documented 340 positive mosquito samples and 96 birds that died of West Nile virus.

Dr. Bueno says it's the dead bird count that signifies the spread of West Nile.

"This year it certainly appears to be there's a lot more virus circulating in the bird population, which makes it easier for the mosquitoes to acquire the virus."

Dr. Bueno says anyone concerned about exposure to the aerial spray should stay indoors tomorrow evening. But he says the insecticide degrades very rapidly and doesn't hang around in the environment very long.

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Laurie Johnson

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Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...