Mike Clark, a doctor from North Texas, is now the patient since being infected with the West Nile virus. Clark now wonders if he and others infected with the neuroinvasive form of the disease could have been spared had the Dallas County health department opted for aerial spraying sooner.
Clark is still in rehabilitation more than two months after contracting the virus. He aims to recover damage to his body and memory.
“There are a lot of people who wouldn’t be in the hospital, who wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in, had things been done faster,” Clark said.
The Dallas County health department was urged to “strongly consider” aerial spraying in late July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC advised this action during a conference call on July 25.
Although the CDC had advised aerial spraying, the information was apparently never passed on to the top official authorized to make the final decision, Judge Clay Jenkins.
Jenkins said to NBC 5 Investigates: “My first communication from anyone regarding the possibility of aerial spraying for the 2012 WNV outbreak was August 6, 2012.”
The CDC says it told the health department to consider aerial spraying 12 days prior to August 6.
Thompson disagrees with what CDC told NBC 5 Investigates.
“I’ve set the record straight that the recommendation you’re talking about is a recommendation that the CDC looks at overall planning,” he said. “First you do surveillance, you do enhanced spraying, and then you, you, go to aerial spraying.”
Thompson will not disclose what he believes the CDC advised during the conference call, but maintains that he followed CDC plans.
“The CDC told me Friday when I made the decision to request the planes that the time that we wait can be counted in additional West Nile cases and human life,” said Jenkins on Aug. 16.
Clark wonders if Jenkins could have approved the spraying earlier if the county health director had informed him of what the CDC advised during the July 25 conference call.
Thompson, health director, has been asked repeatedly by NBC 5 Investigates to discuss his department’s response to the West Nile virus epidemic, but has declined the requests.