- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Texas health officials said Wednesday they will use airplanes to spray for mosquitoes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which left large areas of standing water in which nuisance or Zika-carrying insects can lay eggs.

The state Department of Health Services said aerial spraying will begin around dusk Thursday in a pair of Gulf Coast counties near Corpus Christi.

Spraying is the most effective way to stamp out mosquitoes that could carry viruses like West Nile or Zika in the wake of the storm and resulting flooding, the state said.

Most new mosquitoes will be disease-free, yet the swarms could drive recovery workers inside for stretches, the department said.

Officials said the amount of insecticide — one or two tablespoons per acre — is safe for humans and animals, though people may prefer to stay inside or close their windows if they’re still concerned.

They also said nighttime spraying targets mosquitoes when they’re most active, while bee populations will have returned to their hives for the night.

Texas environmental contractor — Clarke —will begin the flights in Refugio and Bee counties late Thursday before operations move north along the coast, with support from the U.S. Air Force.

The department said it will issue updates as it finalizes its flight plans. In the meantime, it wants residents to dump standing water around their homes and businesses.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry Zika, a virus linked to birth defects in babies born to infected mothers, tend to breed in small containers around the home.

Texas is a particular worry spot for U.S. disease-spotters, since Mexico states along the border have seen persistent transmission of Zika, even as the virus recedes from view in most of the Western Hemisphere.

Hidalgo County, Texas, has recorded the only case of mosquito-borne Zika in the continental U.S. so far in 2017.

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