Facing the worst outbreak of West Nile virus in the nation this year, Dallas County is conducting aerial sprays today to try to contain the mosquitoes that carry the disease.
Eight people have died after contracting the illness and more than 120 cases have been reported in Dallas County, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
Officials in the county, which encompasses the metropolitan area of Dallas and Fort Worth, authorized the aerial sprays on Friday after meeting with state health officials and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the first time in nearly five decades aerial sprays were approved.
"This is a matter of extreme concern, and we're going to follow the science and do what's best for our people," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county's top elected official, told The Associated Press.
Residents near three areas that are scheduled to be sprayed were advised to avoid contact with the insecticide by staying indoors or traveling with their car windows closed until the spray is no longer visible.
The Dallas County Medical Society had lobbied for an aerial spraying plan after the outbreak reached "historic levels" and urged the Dallas County Health and Human Services department to "act quickly to reduce the risks of additional infection among the area's residents."
The increased number of cases in Texas this year were attributed to the extreme heat and recent rain, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
There is no vaccine for the virus, which causes symptoms including high fevers, headaches and disorientation.
Since the first case of West Nile Virus was reported in the United States in 1999, more than 30,000 people have come down with the disease, according to the CDC.