Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Frisco opts out of aerial spraying for West Nile virus
"We don't know whether it's effective or not," said a Frisco councilmember.
FRISCO The Frisco City Council used a special session Monday to consider and vote on aerial spraying for West Nile virus, which it ultimately declined by a 4-1 vote. Council members cited residents' concerns regarding the potential health impact of the spray and the relative lack of cases in the city compared to other local cities as reasons for voting against aerial spraying.
Aerial spraying would have been provided by Denton County and taken place during the course of three nights, city health officials said. The decision wasn't easy for the council members, however, with most saying they could easily vote either way.
"There's not a right or wrong answer on this," Mayor Maher Maso told council members before the vote took place. "I told the council if they choose [take part in] aerial spraying I'll support it with a declaration to get us there. I don't plan on [making this decision] unilaterally on my own."
Julie Stallcup, environmental health supervisor for the city, stated there's not enough conclusive data about the effectiveness of aerial spraying so far, although there didn't appear to be data indicating aerial spraying would harm humans.
Council Member Jeff Cheney was hesitant to opt in Denton County's aerial spraying when the city currently isn't seeing many cases. The last confirmed case of West Nile virus in Frisco occurred on August 21.
"Frisco is below the average number of cases -- we're not sure why; it could be something we're doing well, it could be a statistical anomaly or it could mean we're going to get hit within the next month," Cheney said. "Aerial spraying, we don't know whether it's effective or not."
The city council left itself room to reconsider the issue at a later date, although city health officials recommended not spraying at the current point in time. Health officials from both Denton County and Collin County were at the meeting to provide council members with information on West Nile virus cases in the area and answer any questions about the virus.
Ultimately, Council Member Bob Allen said he was swayed by the recommendation of the city's health officials.
"We always say public safety above all else, and when it came to needing a new fire station or needing more police support I always followed staff's recommendation" Allen said. "You guys have been looking at it, studying it, and as much as I could justify doing the spraying I don't know how I can disagree with the people that have been digging through the details for so much time -- it's hard for me to go against that."
Unlike his fellow city council members, Council Member Scott Johnson was adamant about spraying, saying the city needs to take a proactive approach and set an example that it's doing everything it can to keep Frisco residents healthy.
"I really can't see a compelling reason not to do this," Johnson said. "It's time for Frisco to be a leader in the community that we are and make the tough decision here and spray."
So far this summer, five Frisco residents have tested positive for West Nile virus and no deaths have been reported. Two deaths as a result of the virus have been reported in Denton County and one has been reported in Collin County.
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