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West Nile virus hits Dallas, Texas

Two scientists exit their clean lab through a series of air locks in the new mosquito harvesting labs at Sanaria Inc. in Rockville, Maryland.

Jeremy Hobson: The city of Dallas Texas has authorized the first aerial spraying of pesticides since the 1960s to stop an outbreak of West Nile virus. Dallas County has seen nearly 200 cases of the mosquito born illness and ten deaths.

Christopher Werth takes a look at the global economic impact of mosquitos and the diseases they carry.


Christopher Werth: No sense yet on what the outbreak in Dallas will cost. An outbreak in Louisiana in 2004 left the city a tab of over $20 million.

But West Nile is just one of many mosquito born illnesses. Others include dengue fever and malaria, and the costs there can be much higher.

Pru Smith is with the organization Roll Back Malaria.

Pru Smith: Malaria costs Africa for example, at least $12 billion every year in lost productivity, in the costs of treating people and deaths, etc. That has a big impact on the economy.

Anne Mills of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says controlling mosquito born diseases can raise a country’s GDP. And like the case in Dallas, she says outbreaks have to be tackled fast.

Anne Mills: Viruses have the ability to spread very rapidly. And sometimes aerial spraying is the best way of coping with that.

Although, she says, on environmental grounds that might not be very popular.

I’m Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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