DALLAS — Ten deaths and more than 200 cases of the West Nile virus in northern Texas have become the worst U.S. outbreak this year, leading the Dallas mayor to order the city's first aerial spraying of insecticide in more than 45 years.
"The number of cases, the number of deaths are remarkable, and we need to sit up and take notice," Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a city council briefing Wednesday.
Texas health department statistics show 381 cases and 16 deaths related to the mosquito-borne virus statewide. Aerial spraying for mosquitoes could begin Thursday evening, depending on weather conditions.
State health commissioner Dr. David Lakey said half of all West Nile cases in the U.S so far this year are in Texas. But 32 states have reported cases, and there have been at least 693 cases and 28 deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.