Nightly News | August 18, 2012
>> new warnings for people in texas today to protect themselves against the west nile disease . the battle against the mosquitos that carry west nile is being waged from land and air. we get the latest tonight from janet shamlian .
>> it's the biggest in eight years. derek larson was infected in minnesota.
>> came home, took a nap. when i woke up, my head was -- it's the worst pain i ever felt.
>> reporter: larson is among 700 people nationwide sickened by the virus. 26 have died. that's the highest number at this time of year since west nile was detected in 1999 .
>> this is the beginning of the season. the fact that we have so many cases this early and it's so widespread doesn't bode well for the future summer.
>> reporter: dallas is the epicenter of the tbak. a third of the nation's cases are here, in just one county. ten died and hundreds are sick. an air assault was launched this week, but small planes spraying insecticide were grounded early by rain the past few nights and cancelled entirely for tonight amid some concern it's unsafe.
>> the sprague ying is a risk to mosquitos but it is not an unreasonable risk to your family.
>> reporter: during last year's texas drought there were two deaths statewide. this year, 21 have died. more than 550 are infected. they are going door to door in some areas, spreading the word, hoping to stop the spread.
>> we are passing out brochures about the west nile virus .
>> we want people to take action to protect themselves, protect their families, their neighborhoods, the schools, protect everybody. this is going to take a village to get through.
>> reporter: as hundreds of villages, cities and suburbs find themselves under siege. janet shamlian , nbc news, houston.