DALLAS, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Texas officials say spraying pesticides is the best way to fight West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes, despite concerns over exposing people to the chemicals.
Two twin-engine planes loaded with 200 gallons of pesticide are set to spray Dallas, which has so far had 111 reported infections of West Nile virus that caused 65 hospitalizations, the Dallas Morning News reported. The planes are expected to take off Thursday night.
"This is very much like a battle plan," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday. "We're going to hit them with this weapon, and we expect the result to be knocking them back in most places. But we'll do our reconnaissance and adjust our battle plan as necessary."
So far, 11 cities north of Interstate 30 have decided to spray pesticide to kill the mosquitoes.
"I think this is the right thing to do," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we didn't take action."
Jim Olson, a retired entomologist at Texas A&M University, said the pesticide being sprayed poses little risk to humans.
"It's just like the disclaimer on medicine," he said. "Do you not take what the doctor prescribes for you because of the low chance you'll have a side effect? No, you take your medicine."
Nationwide, a total of 693 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported, including 26 deaths, the Center for Disease Control reported.
Of those cases, 406 of those cases were classified as neuroinvasive disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis, and 287were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease, the CDC said.
More than 80 percent of the cases have been reported from six states -- Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and California.