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Georgetown Spraying Pesticide To Keep Mosquitoes At Bay

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Several weeks ago, hard-hit Dallas County began aerial pesticide spraying following more than a dozen West Nile related deaths in the area. We went looking to see if any Central Texas communities were considering that drastic step to keep residents safe. We found one city, Georgetown, which has been routinely spraying certain areas for years.

In the very early morning hours every Friday, city workers spray every city park with a chemical to kill mosquitoes. The parks are targeted for the weekends, to keep the most people protected from mosquito bites.

Jacque Virgilio runs and rides her bike in San Gabriel Park in Georgetown. She’s never noticed a problem with mosquitoes there before, but is not a fan of the city spraying chemicals to kill them.

“I think that's toxic, I think that's absolutely toxic, there's got to be a better way,” said Virgilio. “I don't know what it is. I just think there's got to be a better way than polluting everyone's lungs.”

But Park goers Jeremy Humphrey and Ariel Hill, while unaware the city was spraying, have a different take on the proactive measures.

“I'd rather them spray and get rid of West Nile than get bitten by one and get the West Nile,” said Humphrey. “I support it, it's definitely worth it.”

The city spends about $10,000 to spray every city park once a week during the summer months, according to city officials.  It's something the city's done for many years.

So far this year, there have been six confirmed cases of West Nile, with one fatality in Williamson County.

”In comparison to what's going on statewide and based on our population, we are below average, so that's the good news,” said  Marcus Cooper with Williamson County and Cities Health District.

But whether or not that “below average” number of cases can be linked to the spraying effort in the city parks, is nearly impossible to confirm.  Health officials say there are just too many variables that go into the number of cases in any given city. 

“In some cases you may have people who've been bitten in other areas and then traveled home,” explained Cooper. “Or were bitten while they were working in other cities and population areas. So all of those are factors we have to take into account.”

Georgetown used to spray in residential areas and in parks, five nights a week to cover the entire city.  That cost as much as $45,000 more a year.  The extra money to cover residential areas was cut for the City’s budget in 2008.

By Karen Kiley.Georgetown Spraying Pesticide To Keep Mosquitoes At Bay

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