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CDC Teams Arrive in North Texas to Evaluate West Nile Efforts

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control are in Texas this week trying to figure out why West Nile Virus is so prevalent in the Lone Star State.

After being invited by the State Health Department, seven CDC scientists arrived in Texas this week to analyze the West Nile Virus outbreak.

Public affairs specialist Kristen Nordlund says team members are divided between Austin and Arlington and will be working closely with the state.

Nordlund: They’ll be going out with teams from the state and from the local health departments to see the areas that have been most hardest hit, in terms of activity, as well as computer work, looking at the data and actually kind of crunching the numbers and trying to figure out why Texas is being hit so hard this year.

Nordlund says the epidemiologists and entomologists are known as “disease detectives” and should be in Texas through the end of this week.

She says they’ll be studying trapped mosquitoes as well as their environments. They’ll also be evaluating prevention efforts.

“The CDC helps to build capacity in states to be able to deal with and respond to those outbreaks. And Texas is doing a great job; they just invited us in to help them, really. It’s all about assistance,” Nordlund says.

If something specific is uncovered or there is additional information to release about West Nile Virus in Texas, the CDC could be ready to brief the public by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

The CDC has also provided the state with close to three million dollars for increased surveillance, including mosquito spraying.

Meanwhile, Denton County is asking its 40 cities and municipalities to opt in or out of aerial mosquito spraying by Tuesday.

The County issued a Disaster Declaration and requested aerial spraying Wednesday. A spokesman for Emergency Management says aerial spraying could start as early as next Thursday.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.