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Different Approaches to Handling West Nile Threat in Central Texas

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
In Austin there have been more West Nile cases, there’s another West Nile death; but there is still no change in the long standing tradition of refraining from aerial spraying in the city limits to kill the mosquitoes perpetuating the scourge.  A public health emergency is the threshold required to reverse that policy.  But what constitutes such an emergency is an unspecific set of circumstances. 

Ultimately, it is the judgment call of the Austin/Travis County Health Authority, Dr. Phil Huang.  In early August, when we asked him about the possibility of spraying in the city limits, he responded vaguely, "If things got really bad, more cases and everything we would look at what else we need to do".

While Dr. Huang has had no definitive answer for when we might start spraying, they do have an answer in Georgetown.  It’s every Friday morning.  The city has been fumigating Georgetown parks once a week for years.

“I'd rather them spray and get rid of West Nile than get bitten by one and get West Nile.  I support it.  It's definitely worth it,” says Williamson County resident Jeremy Humphrey.

While he feels more protected, Georgetown resident Jacque Virgilio considers the poisonous mist to be more of a threat than West Nile, “I think that's toxic.  I think that's absolutely toxic.  There's got to be a better way.”

Obviously, there is no perfect plan.  But there is a blood test.

“Now that they know there’s a test…we’re getting the increased calls,” says Sarah Toney, who owns Any Lab Test Now in Central Austin.  Since we first profiled her business offering the West Nile blood test three weeks ago, she says more Austinites have been coming in to get it.  It appears one way or another; mosquitoes are getting our blood in Central Texas this summer.Different Approaches to Handling West Nile Threat in Central Texas

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