HOUSTON -- Planes equipped to battle the West Nile outbreak in Texas have been grounded by rain, delaying the aerial application of pesticide targeting the deadly virus that has prompted a state of emergency in Dallas County, officials said.
So far, Dallas County has reported 242 West Nile infections and 10 deaths, making it the epicenter of a statewide surge in infections.
Texas has reported 552 cases and 21 deaths, by far the highest tally nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some officials blame an unusually warm North Texas winter followed by a wet spring for increasing the local mosquito population and with it, West Nile infections.
Storms forced the four planes to land at 12:20 a.m., Dallas County spokeswoman Maria Arita told The Times. Spraying had been scheduled to continue Saturday night, but with more rain in the forecast, Arita said the spraying was canceled. It was not clear when it would resume.