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Questions Remain For Austin West Nile Spraying

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

When it comes to spraying in Austin, there’s still a lot up in the air. Spraying in the city to fight West Nile Virus: Is Austin going to do it? And if so, at what point?  How bad does it have to get for spraying to start?

We got the medical director health authority’s voicemail, so we went to see him ourselves.

Staff told us he’s on a two-week trip doing medical volunteer work, a yearly tradition, and will be back on Sept. 18th. We were eventually referred to the director of the entire department. We left a message at his office. The department spokesperson also left messages for the director and his assistant, but we were unable to reach him. The spokesperson also did not know where the director was.

We did ask her about how bad the situation would need to get for spraying to start in city limits and whether plans were in the works. She would only say it’s an option and always under consideration.

So if it did reach that point, how would the decision be made? The county says it would likely have to meet and reach consensus among the county health authority, city and county leaders, and the state. Among the factors: how many deaths, total cases, populations affected, and weather. But as far as specifics, the department says there aren’t any; they haven’t done this before. Which leaders and how many and who would make the final say: still to be determined. When asked which person or persons would make the final call, we were referred to the director. We also put in a call to the mayor’s office but had not heard back.

The Department of State Health Services confirmed they have not received a request from Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services to do aerial spraying. A spokesperson said the county makes a request to the state, which then funds the effort.

So the exact plan for now? Still up in the air.

Travis County has been doing ground spraying in outlying areas and has also put larvacide in city limits near mosquito breeding grounds.

By Adam Bennett.Questions Remain For Austin West Nile Spraying

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