- HYANNIS, Mass. - Mosquito
swat teams are prepared to launch a major attack against the West Nile
encephalitis virus in Cape Cod. The Centers for Disease Control has advised
Massachusetts and 16 other Atlantic Coast states to be on the alert for
a potential outbreak of the deadly disease.
- Seven people died from the virus last summer in New York
state and another 61 people were severely infected. There is no known vaccine
against the West Nile virus.
- Detected in the Western Hemisphere for the first time
last year, the Culex species of the mosquito that carries the virus appears
to be transported by birds, including crows and gulls. Last year observers
reported that birds were literally dropping dead out of trees.
- The Cape Cod Times reported Tuesday that Massachusetts
state officials are systematically trapping and checking mosquitoes for
the virus. They have also heightened surveillance for early signs of bird
deaths. And veterinarians are being enlisted to watch for viral infections
and to dispatch any questionable samples to the state laboratory for analysis.
- Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus breed in storm
drains, old tires, and stagnant water found in ditches and pools of water
in tarps covering boats.
- Pesticide spraying should be a last resort in the battle
against the virus, said biologist and epidemiologist Ralph Timperi, who
is director of the state's Department of Public Health laboratory. He said
that aerial spraying "is the last tool to use because it is the most
drastic and should be used only under the most extreme conditions."
- Instead Timperi urged residents to eliminate standing
pockets of water and use special ingredients designed to destroy mosquitoes
before they mature. Warning Massachusetts residents against complacency,
Timperi said, "The irony of the whole situation is that many people
do not think they have mosquito-borne viruses where we haven't had them.
But what happened in New York was totally unexpected."
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