'Mosquito district' allows for easier control efforts, but tactics worry some

Print
Email
|

by JANET ST. JAMES / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on November 27, 2012 at 9:29 AM

DALLAS -- Beekeeper Brandon Pollard keeps a watchful eye on hives across North Texas.

After mosquito spraying, his hives lost thousands of honeybees. But not until after the winter will he know the long-term effects on the colonies.

He isn't waiting until then to speak out against creating a possible mosquito district.

"For us," Pollard said, "A mosquito district would mean it would just be a lot easier for them to pick up the red phone and say, 'We need to dust the public with a bunch of chemicals because we have a bunch of cases here.'"

The decision for aerial pesticide spraying across parts of North Texas was controversial. Creating a mosquito district would make it easier for officials to step up mosquito-control efforts sooner.

In other parts of the country, including California, established mosquito districts make it possible for officials to spray earlier, without soliciting public input or declaring an emergency. In Sacramento, the mosquito district policy is to spray when mosquitoes first test positive for West Nile virus, not when human cases are diagnosed. Many believe those efforts prevent deaths and illnesses.

Establishing such a district in North Texas could potentially allow many cities and counties to join. Such districts usually employ more extensive manpower and surveillance efforts.

Funding would require taxpayer dollars and legislative approval, which is why Pollard, organic expert Howard Garrett, entomologists, and others aren't waiting until the legislature meets in January to voice their opposition.

"We don't want a mosquito district that has a quick trigger, that they're going to start flying planes over or spray from trucks," Garrett said. "Because that does not work."

Garrett said decision makers should hear his more natural approach to controlling disease carrying mosquitoes before establishing a mosquito district. His proposal includes widespread trash clean up to prevent breeding, botanical insecticides, and mosquito-larvae-eating fish.

"If they're not considering a comprehensive program like I am proposing, which includes trash pickup and larvaecides down in the sewers and the drainage ways where the sprays can't possibly get, I will be totally against it," Garrett said, "because it can't possibly work."

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who helped spearhead the aerial spraying campaign, declined comment until an actual proposal for a mosquito district is on the table. Zach Thompson, who heads the Dallas County health department and the largest mosquito control unit in North Texas, also declined to comment at this time.

Both will be at the Dallas County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, where Garrett, Pollard, and others will present their case.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|
 
Health News Video
More Video