Dallas code inspectors who normally do other things are making West Nile virus prevention a top priority.
The city is waiting for detailed results on the effectiveness of aerial mosquito spraying completed in Dallas County last week.
At a City Council briefing on West Nile virus Monday, Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said Dallas is upping its game.
"We have to be better than what we were before," he said.
Gonzalez said over the weekend that inspectors cut a backlog of 700 West Nile virus-related calls for assistance down to 50 as of Monday morning.
The inspectors, armed with fliers about West Nile virus prevention, are also going door-to-door looking for standing water.
The shift frees other inspectors who specialize in mosquito control to focus on wetland areas that deserve regular treatment.
"The battle is now to find these areas, because they're off the beaten path," said Michael Sanders, environmental specialist.
Dallas will continue to ground spray to kill adult mosquitoes in two neighborhoods Monday night.
At the briefing, Councilwoman Ann Margolin questioned how neighborhoods are selected for ground spraying.
"I had some extremely frustrated neighborhoods that wanted to be sprayed," she said.
City officials said the decision is based on West Nile virus tests of mosquitoes from traps.
But City Manager Mary Suhm said the city’s ground-spraying methods would also be reviewed in studies of aerial spraying effectiveness that several agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are conducting.
"We may be doing it right, but when we get the CDC information back, we're going to ask them to look at the sites. We're going to ask them to look at the number of traps. We're going to ask them to look at our methodology," she said.
In the meantime, Dallas also will pursue the more aggressive prevention program.
Rodney Hampton said he was pleased to see an inspector on his street in Pleasant Grove on Monday.
"We wondered what's going to happen if we get bitten, and now that I see the city truck, I see that the city really does have concern about the people in the neighborhood," he said.
The Dallas County Health Department announced Monday that a 12th person has died of West Nile virus. The person lived in Irving in the 75060 zip code.
About 300 people in Dallas County have contracted the disease so far this year.