By GREG RUSSELL
Register Staff Writer
Mosquito fogging in Gainesville city limits is set to begin 8 p.m. Thursday in residential areas, possibly an overnight operation.
Interim Community Services Director Jody Henry said a third-party company — contracted to perform the fogging, as in recent years past — may bring in more than one fogging unit, thus speeding up the process. A meeting set for Tuesday, he added, will determine the details.
Henry is temporarily serving as community services director in place of recently exited John Noblitt, who is now city manager in Lindsay, Okla., and has spoken at length in recent related stories about the city’s anti-mosquito procedures.
“I’d encourage the public that whenever they see the truck, to go indoors,” Henry said Friday. “And I suggest they stay indoors for about 20 minutes. But the chemical being used is the chemical used in pet-dipping solutions, and so it’s not supposed to be hazardous to pets.”
Henry said the fogging operation will be limited to residential areas of Gainesville, rather than industrial and commercial sections, and that 2013 represents the first year Gainesville officials have initiated their own mosquito trappings.
No cases of West Nile Virus have been reported during the summer, but the inevitability of a hazard prompted officials to ramp up efforts to identify the city’s safety status.
In late May, Noblitt said “a handful” of gravid traps were prepared and placed in what officials consider the most high-risk areas in city limits, such as spots near creeks and waterways. Gravid traps are generally plastic basins filled with a chemical that attracts and traps mosquitoes. Test results generally turn around within two days and local efforts are coordinated with state officials.
The test results, Noblitt explained, were coordinated with state officials by way of Cooke County Emergency Manager Ray Fletcher, who has already tested in county cities peripheral to Gainesville and said the virus is completely absent in those city limits.
“It’s all come back negative,” Fletcher said Friday. “There were no positives to come anywhere in the county, including Gainesville.”
But mosquito spraying will still proceed, even though tests currently show a county free of West Nile.
“Our spraying is proactive spraying and we have no indication that we have an issue,” Noblitt said in late May. “But we’re going to do one round of vector control, just to be safe.”
Fletcher said in late May, however, that rural outlying areas could provide a different situation.
“People should assume it’s here and treat it accordingly,” he said. “Once you get a confirmed test, you know it’s there, but in the open rural areas of the county, there isn’t much we can do about it. So we assume it’s going to be here and people should do those things they can to prevent exposure and help prevent mosquitoes from breeding.”