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Mosquito-Borne Disease Alert Issued in Walton County. Florida

In West Nile Virus on December 2, 2012 at 8:12 am

The Walton County Health Department continues its mosquito-borne illness alert for Walton County, Florida. The fourth human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed in Walton County.

The possibility that others may become infected with the virus remains extremely high, and the health department strongly encourages the public to continue to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes infected with WNV can bite and infect humans. About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop serious illness. Symptoms of West Nile Virus may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Those individuals who develop a fever or other signs of illness following a mosquito bite should consult with their health care provider. Health care providers should contact either health department if they suspect an individual may be infected with a mosquito-borne illness.

The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. The best preventive measure for residents living in areas infested with mosquitoes is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, primarily artificial containers that hold water.


US West Nile outbreak second-worst at more than 4,500 cases

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on October 21, 2012 at 7:40 pm

By Marice Richter

DALLAS Oct 17 (Reuters) – The number of West Nile virus cases across the United States has topped 4,500, with another 282 cases reported last week, making 2012 the nation’s second-worst year on record for the mosquito-borne disease, government figures showed on Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 4,531 cases have been reported this year, the highest number since the record outbreak of 2003, when 9,862 cases were reported.

Another 15 deaths from the disease were reported last week, bringing the total to 183, the CDC said.

Almost 70 percent of the cases have been reported in eight states: Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan and Oklahoma. More than one-third were in Texas, with Dallas-Fort Worth at the center of the outbreak.

Just over half of the cases reported to the CDC this year have been of the severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, which can lead to meningitis and encephalitis.

The milder form of the disease causes flu-like symptoms and is rarely lethal.

West Nile Virus Leaves Man Disabled Years after Bite

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on October 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm



In northwest Indiana, where I have raised vegetables for 20-odd years, mosquitoes flourish when rain fills the swamp pools in the backwaters of the Kankakee River.

In August 2004, those pools spawned a particularly righteous throng. One afternoon, they found me. I had unzipped my bug-protection hood to write some notes about what I was planting. Bitten sharply on the chest, I slapped and missed. Then I was lanced on the left temple. That was her last act. The gangly bug lay flat on my palm — and so began my odyssey into the world of West Nile that even eight years later is not entirely concluded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year is the worst summer for West Nile virus since the disease arrived in the United States, probably in 1999. If so, my tale is a cautionary one.

A week after being bit by that mosquito, I was at a cooking conference in Vermont, working 10-hour days cutting vegetables, joking around the kitchen, making new friends. The third day, I woke with a fever and ached deeply in my bones. I figured it was a bizarrely ferocious flu.

Two days later, I had a temperature of 104, was losing the ability to walk and suddenly realized that I could not move my left arm. The friends who drove me to the hospital had to all but carry me into the emergency room. Within two hours, I had been X-rayed, CT-scanned, MRI’ed, and spinal-tapped. The tests showed extremely high white blood cell counts. There were lesions on my spinal cord, and the virus had caused my brain to swell: I had encephalitis.

As the doctors theorized about Lyme disease or a rampant herpes virus, I remembered that vicious bite of 10 days earlier and placed my bet that it was West Nile. Sure enough, there were West Nile antibodies in my spinal fluid, and the doctors put me on a serious regimen of steroids and antibiotics. Within a few days, both arms were flaccid and my legs began to fail me.

My wife and friends were at my side, but I recall little of those first days other than being stunned by this new life situation. I’d had sports injuries in the past but had never been in a hospital, rarely visited doctors and secretly applauded myself on my innate good health. Now, I could barely move. I was a spry 47 year old and could barely move. Adding to that, the medical community seemed to share the same sense of bewilderment I felt. There was no regimen of pills, no shot, no miracle cure.

The nurses became my heroes. I lived in a new world of urinals and wheelchairs, sleeplessness and a slide into more paralysis. All I had to rely on to deal with my new condition was my sense of humor and truisms that my father had cheerfully passed on to me and my siblings from his Kansas childhood during the Depresssion: “Nobody ever said life was fair” and “A little rain must fall.”

Doing me in

The virus, or my own immune system’s punch-drunk response — the doctors weren’t certain — was still killing nerve cells. Pain was rarely a big problem, but the illness was doing me in quietly and stealthily.

My physical therapy was canceled because I could no longer walk. My farm muscles were melting away. As bones settled and ligaments let go, my hospital bed became a rack where I found no comfort. Sleep came a few hours at night, medication useless.

The lowest moment came during an attempt at showering a few weeks into my illness. A sweet and tough older nurse was trying to spray me down when I slumped off the shower chair, feeling so weak that I asked to return to bed. As I passed a mirror, supported in her arms, I saw the shrunken person I was now. I remembered my father’s body ravaged by cancer: spindles for limbs, a pathetic little belly, eyes shrunken and dull. I lay there and cried off and on for the next few days.

I lost 40 pounds during that first month, though they fed me double rations. I began to feel real fear.

The anterior horn nerve cells at the top of the spinal cord that controlled my muscles — the same cells attacked in polio and Lou Gehrig’s disease — were dying. My body was so unsupported by tissue and muscle that my shoulders threatened to dislocate. My arms flopped over the side of the bed. I could barely speak. My lungs struggled in my sallow chest.

It seemed incredible: A persistent mosquito had followed nature’s prerogative and brought me to this. According to the CDC, the disease first identified in Uganda in the 1930s had traveled thousands of miles within a bug and alighted in New York 13 years ago. Birds became the vector for the virus, migrating and spreading disease throughout the country. This summer, the virus has sickened people innearly every state.

Feeling as if I had failed my caregivers, my family and myself, I focused my hopes on getting to Chicago and its world-renowned rehabilitation hospital. Chicago was home when I was not on the farm, and I had all the resources of family and friends there to count on. By mid-September, after five weeks of treatment brought no improvement, I was flown out of Vermont by air ambulance and started rehab the morning after my arrival.

A therapist strapped my hands to a sort of elevated bicycle wheel that I was supposed to crank, and she moved on to other patients. I still recall the look of surprise and muted frustration on her face when she returned a few minutes later to find my arms fallen uselessly out of the contraption, the flaccid muscles hopeless for this mode of therapy.

I was in the post-polio division, tended to by neurologists as famous as world-class athletes and by nurse’s aides who fed me, cleaned me from stem to stern and taught me not to buzz too often, especially at night. My siblings flew in to visit, sit by my bedside, read to me and roll my wheelchair to the park down the street. My son, 11 at the time, and my wife bravely endured, willing me to keep my spirits up, feeding me on little doses of love, salted with humor.

I fended off the psychiatrist obsessed with putting me on antidepressants and overruled proposed 3 a.m. shots of blood thinner that was supposed to keep me from dying from a blood clot. There was no real therapy, just visits from young and shiny residents intrigued by my strange, slowly deteriorating condition. My doctors were stymied and began planning to discharge me — in theory, to somehow gain the strength at home to return for therapy.

Then my older sister, a scientist and Internet bloodhound, found a new source for information and guidance: a doctor in Jackson, Miss. Neurologist Arturo Leis of the Methodist Rehabilitation Centerhad treated as many cases of West Nile as anyone in the country. She persuaded my reluctant doctors to consult him.

And then I heard Leis’s voice on the speakerphone explaining that I should no longer be getting weaker as a result of the virus alone and that my symptoms suggested that some secondary, dangerous process was killing more nerve cells. He advised massive doses of IV steroids. My doctors quickly agreed, wordlessly forgetting their plan to send me home.

Going home in a wheelchair

It was autumn when I finally left rehab and saw Lake Shore Drive again, sitting in my wheelchair aboard the ambulance taking me home. The lake was bluer than I remembered amid the sere of late summer, with yellowed grass and tumbling leaves. My wife and son were waiting, soon joined by Bouma, a towering man from Mongolia who for months would be my caretaker.

The steroids brought the first, timid signs of recovery. Faint nerve signals moved muscles even as I called myself “baloney on a slab” and knighted my useless left hand “the claw.” I still could not sleep, overspilled my urinal nightly and came to understand more plainly the value of an enema.

My son said a soft goodbye each day on his way out to school. I would cry sometimes when he left, trying instead to think about my father’s homespun admonitions, my wife’s constant efforts to help me heal and the underpaid heroes who had tended to me in Vermont and Chicago.

I started outpatient therapy and saw an acupuncturist whose needles and herbs rallied my hope. And then one December night at home, in a foul mood, I demanded that someone help me out of my wheelchair — and jerked myself up and tottered a few feet to the table. I started to be able to walk again.

As uncalled and silent as the virus when it crept in, so my recovery began.

West Nile’s aftereffects

The mosquitoes are still multiplying in the heat out in the country. Hurricane Isaac’s remnants provided them with one final birthing bonanza before their demise in the season’s first hard frost.

The CDC, meanwhile, advises that immunity to West Nile for those who have been exposed to the virus should, in most cases, be lifelong.

Although I have regained fairly robust health and returned to farming, my left arm has little strength and my shoulders and upper back have only half the muscle they had before 2004.

I visited Art Leis in Mississippi about five years ago. He tested my nerves and muscles, evaluated my whole history, and stated that my case of West Nile was one out of 30,000: I had been too healthy to get so sick, I had been too sick to recover so well. There was still no certainty as to whether the virus alone ravaged me or whether my own immune system had joined the attack.

Of the more than 3,500 cases of West Nile reported to CDC in this record-setting year, a little more than half developed into encephalitis, meningitis or another disease classified as “neuroinvasive” such as mine. All these years later, I continue to recover, feeling my shoulder blade reattach and surprising myself by sprouting a miniature triceps on my left arm.

Strange as it might seem, because of all that I have learned about myself and my place in the world — where I have been carried by strangers who became heroes and by family and friends — I would not trade these lessons even to be made whole again.

When he’s not working on his organic farm, Shane is a chef in Chicago

Dengue Fever in Texas?

In Dengue Fever, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 10, 2012 at 8:51 am
September 4, 2012 


Recently, there is a lot of buzz in the news and on-line about Dengue Fever.  I had to really dig in my heels and sort through the published literature on this latest in “medical gossip”.

Normally found in more tropical climates such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Mexico, a few cases in recent years have been found in southern Florida according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).    There is increasing concern that areas on the border such as Juarez, which have experienced an upsurge of Dengue Fever, could put the South Texas region on alert.

According to the most recent CDC map, recent cases in Texas seem to be travelers arriving from places outside the U.S. The concern however, is that increased international commerce from areas with infected mosquitoes and warmer environmental climates could be allowing more mosquitoes to survive thru the winter months.  Remember: it was an unseasonably warm winter this past year.

Approximately 3-8% of travelers returning from the tropics may become infected.  Next to malaria, Dengue is the second most common tropical disease infection resulting in hospitalizations.

Dengue fever is characterized by high fever, vomiting, rash and dehydration and may occur from 3-15 days after an infected mosquito bites its victim.  Headache, chills and swollen lymph nodes may be the first signs of infection.   Symptoms may last 1-2 weeks with complete recovery.  Infected individuals with more severe viral forms of Dengue may develop life-threatening symptoms such as bleeding of the skin, gums and gastrointestinal tract (referred to as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever).

Not limited to blood work, sometimes a spinal tap is necessary for diagnosis.  Treatment is limited and usually just an increase in fluid intake is needed.  Occasionally IV fluids, and rarely hospitalization is necessary for Dengue Fever.  For Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, blood transfusions and more intensive care is necessary.

Tylenol is the medication of choice and drugs such as aspirin and NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc) are not recommended as they could increase the risk of bleeding.

The prognosis (outcome) is most always excellent for Dengue Fever. As with West Nile, people with altered immune systems such as the elderly and those on chemotherapy are more likely to experience complications. Overall fatality rate is about 1%.  Although that seems low, world wide about 500,000 to 1 million people die each year from the disease (which is significant).

No vaccines are available at this time and the CDC recommends insect repellent with up to 50% DEET for adults and children over 2 months of age.

So, is the hype real?  I suspect we must all be on alert.  It was a warm winter.  For now, I am going to invest in  DEET insect repellent and pray fo a really good winters freeze.  I suggest you do the same.

Mosquito repellent selling off local store shelves

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

By Ruben Veloz, EL PASO, Texas

Stores in the borderland are selling out of insect repellent as more and more people worry about contracting the West Nile virus, according to a local Walgreens store manager in West El Paso.

Experts are saying this is the worst West Nile season in years.

KFOX14 checked at the Walgreens store on Doniphan and Mesa, where store managers are reporting sell out of insect repellent.

The store says most of the demand seems to be in west El Paso.

The store thinks it has to do with the open space in the area, allowing the opportunity for more standing water.

One El Paso man who was seen leaving the store said he just bought four cans of spray last week.

“I can understand that they are selling a lot of the stuff because I am going to be buying a little bit more than I already have,” said 59-year-old west El Paso resident Clarence Spradley. “Me and my son are planning on going fishing and be prepared. So, yeah, I’m worried about it.”

He’s hoping his supply will keep bugs away from his family for about a year.

The El Paso Health Department has reported 16 cases of West Nile virus so far this year. Two people have died of the virus.
Three cases have been reported in Dona Ana County, N.M..

While other people are stocking up on the mosquito repellent, some find it a little bit extreme.

“I don’t think it hits the radar bad enough to me for me to actually go to the store and buy something like that to just spray on myself,” said Central El Paso Resident Hector Marquez.

Spradlley however, believes it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“It’s better to have more than what you need and not have anything then when you do need it,” said Spradley.

One Walgreens manager told KFOX14 they are expecting a special shipment of insect repellant for all Walgreen stores in El Paso.

If you have trouble finding insect repellent check, you can try checking the camping section of select stores.

Sometimes insect repellents are sold in that area.

Which Bug Repellent Is Best?

In DEET, Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 2, 2012 at 11:05 am

Bucks - Making the Most of Your Money

August 30, 2012, 4:17 PM

If your family is like ours, you’ll be spending time outdoors this Labor Day weekend.

And if you’re a mother like me (read: a worrier), you’re well aware of news reports

about the abundance of ticks this year,

and about an increase in cases of West Nile virus in some parts of the country.

That means we’ll be spraying ourselves and our children with bug repellent, to ward off both ticks

and the pesky mosquitoes that carry West Nile.

(Generally we avoid slathering our offspring with chemicals.

But we make an exception in this case,

if they’re going to be out in nature for extended periods of time). But which repellent is best?

Consumer Reports has updated a test of widely available repellents that work on both deer ticks and mosquitoes that carry West Nile,

along with cost information on a per-ounce basis. The six top-rated products are $2 an ounce or less.

The data on costs is from 2010, according to Consumer Reports, but all the products are currently available.

(And a quick check online suggests prices are about the same, or in some cases, lower.)

Just how much chemical you are comfortable exposing yourself

and your children to is up to you. The four top-ranked brands

— Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II, Cutter Backwoods Unscented, Off Family Care Smooth & Dry,

and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent — all contain DEET in varying concentrations from 15 percent to 30 percent,

and were able to repel mosquitoes for at least eight hours.

DEET is effective, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it is safe when used as directed,

but you shouldn’t use it on babies under 2 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises

against using products with more than 30 percent DEET on children.

The fifth- and sixth-ranked products — Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus and Natrapel 8-hour with Picaridin —

don’t contain DEET, but provided long-lasting protection as well.

The lower-ranked products also repelled mosquitoes effectively, but generally for shorter periods of time,

and some had other drawbacks, like a tendency to stain clothing.

The upshot, Consumer Report says, is that “most of the tested products will do the job if you’re

going to be outside for only a couple of hours, but look for a highly rated product to protect you on longer excursions.”

The E.P.A. has information on its Web site to help you choose a repellentbased on your specific needs,

although it doesn’t include cost data. General information about West Nile is available

from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are you stepping up your use of bug repellent due to West Nile?

A Run on Bug Spray Amid Fears of West Nile Virus

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on August 26, 2012 at 9:25 am

One bottle of mosquito repellent was all that remained at a Dougherty’s Pharmacy in Dallas.


Published: August 24, 2012

DALLAS — If there was an aroma that defined life in this city, maybe it was the scent of chicken-fried bacon and other exotic deep-fried specialties at the annual State Fair of Texas. Maybe the city smelled like football, or steakhouses, or money, or some combination thereof.

Mark Graham for The New York Times

Katharyn DeVille, who was hospitalized after being bitten by a mosquito, said, “I have migraines, and this was worse.”

But these days, there is something new in the air, and it is everywhere: the sweetly pungent odor of spray-on mosquito repellent.

As the city and its nearby suburbs cope with a deadly outbreak of West Nile virus, the bug-spray shelves of convenience stores and pharmacies are emptying out. In the upscale neighborhood of Preston Hollow, a section of Aisle 3A at Dougherty’s Pharmacy was nearly bare: 87 out of a stock of 88 bottles of OFF! had sold.

“OFF! is the new Chanel No. 5 around here,” said Carol Reed, a longtime political consultant whom D Magazine once dubbed the No. 1 Dallas insider. “I now put on insect repellent the same way I do sunblock. But we are Texans, so we fight something every summer.”

State health officials confirmed that since June 1, 640 people have been infected with West Nile, 23 of whom have died. Dallas County is the epicenter of the mosquito-borne illness that has spread across Texas and other parts of the country. Ten people have died in Dallas County and more than 200 others have been sickened, the highest number of West Nile-related deaths and infections of any county in the United States.

In addition, state officials are investigating but have not yet confirmed three other possible West Nile-related deaths, including one in Dallas County.

In response, the mayor of Dallas has declared a state of emergency, low-flying planes have waged an aerial pesticide assault and slow-moving trucks have sprayed on the ground.

One day last week, the Texas Poison Center Network experienced a spike in calls statewide, receiving the most calls in a single day since a 2007 peanut butter recall. Out of 1,491 calls, 716 were from people concerned about West Nile virus and the pesticide spraying.

“We have had calls from people saying, ‘O.K., I have a bunch of mosquito bites and I’m nauseous, what does this mean?’ “ said Melody Gardner, director of the North Texas Poison Center at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, which handled most of the 716 calls.

At another hospital, Methodist Dallas Medical Center, there have been a couple of cases of people who were bitten by mosquitoes rushing to the emergency room and bringing the suspected culprits with them, in the hopes of getting the insects tested for West Nile, a hospital spokeswoman said.

And yet, despite the fatalities and the nearly $3 million countywide spraying operation, the outbreak has not caused widespread panic. Many of those who have died were elderly men and women who had underlying conditions, a fact that many residents recite as the reason for only mild alarm.

People still sit outdoors at cafes and restaurants in shorts and T-shirts, and joggers still huff down the sidewalks before dusk, fearing neither mosquito nor chemical agent. Two days after declaring a state of emergency, Mayor Michael S. Rawlings was in downtown Dallas to see the musical “Chicago.”

Amid the sunshine on Thursday afternoon, many of those running and walking along the popular Katy Trail here were doing so without the aid of bug spray.

“I could care less,” said Josh Tucker, 36, a financial analyst for a real estate company who was deep into a three-mile-plus jog. “For the most part, I think it’s overblown.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is a sprawling 12-county region that is home to more than six million people and is known by its labyrinth-sounding nickname, the Metroplex. If any good has come of the outbreak, then perhaps it has succeeded in shrinking the Metroplex to a more small-town scale, uniting residents of different cities and incomes the way blizzards and blackouts often unite New Yorkers.

In Dallas, many people know someone who has gotten ill or has died, and many more know someone who knows someone.

“I was getting my hair cut last week,” said Roy W. Bailey, the chief executive of a private equity firm who lives in Preston Hollow. “My barber has two customers who have died. That really just slaps you in the face. This is real. This is not something that people are just blowing off.”

Jacqueline DeVille, 8, knows someone affected by the virus, too: her mother, Katharyn DeVille, who spent eight days in a hospital after getting bitten by a mosquito in the family’s backyard in the suburb of DeSoto. Mrs. DeVille, 42, was not sure what she was doing the moment she was bitten.

“I was just doing regular stuff, swimming and probably cooking out,” Mrs. DeVille said. ”There were some days when we would all notice that we would start slapping ourselves, because something was biting.”

It all started July 30, when Mrs. DeVille felt as if she had the flu. Then her fever climbed and she got the chills. She went to a clinic, which sent her to a hospital emergency room in Dallas. The doctor there told her not to worry, and blood tests came up negative, she said.

But nobody knew what was wrong with her, and by that time she had broken out in a rash. By Aug. 8, she kept getting worse, and a severe headache crept up. “It was like an ax in my head,” she said. “I was miserable. I have migraines, and this was worse.”

The next day, Mrs. DeVille went to the emergency room at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, where she was admitted and told she had West Nile and other complications.

“Oddly, I was kind of relieved,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “A, it had a name. And B, I knew I wasn’t contagious to any of my family members, and that was really important to me.”

Mrs. DeVille had lost, in a sense, a month of her life, celebrating her birthday in bed, missing her daughter’s first day of school. She does not venture much into her backyard since being released last Friday, and worries that too many people have an ‘It wouldn’t happen to me’ attitude.

“I think that if we’re all cavalier like that, when people around us are getting sick, if you don’t at least get a can of OFF! and keep it handy, just give yourself that chance not to get sick,” she said. “Because, believe me, you don’t want this.”

On Thursday evening, Mrs. DeVille relaxed at home on the sofa, her daughter by her side. Her phone was in arm’s reach, as was a bottle of mosquito repellent.

NYT: West Nile Hits Hard Around Dallas, With Fear of Its Spread

In West Nile Virus on August 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

By  and 

DALLAS — An outbreak of West Nile virus has engulfed Dallas County, with nearly 200 cases of human infection and 10 deaths, leading the mayor of Dallas to declare a state of emergency and to authorize the first aerial spraying of a pesticide in the city since 1966.

The high number of infections and deaths from the mosquito-borne disease marks the nation’s worst outbreak of West Nile in a year that has already logged a record number of cases across the country. The virus has become endemic in the United States since the first outbreak in 1999.

An official with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Dallas-area outbreak was probably a harbinger of a larger spread of the virus into other parts of the country. In Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, human cases of infection rose steadily this week, from 5 on Monday to 8 on Wednesday to 10 on Thursday, though no deaths had been reported, the authorities said.

Texas officials say the statewide death toll so far is 17, the most West Nile-related fatalities of any state.

In a report, the C.D.C. said that as of Tuesday, 693 cases of infection had been reported nationwide. Louisiana had six deaths, according to the report, and no other state had more than one.

“With this huge outbreak in Texas, the jury is still out on what’s going to happen with the rest of the country,” said the official, Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, director of the C.D.C.’s Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases. “But in Chicago, we’ve already observed high numbers of West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes. This is looking like a large regional event. We don’t know if the number of cases is going to drastically increase, but we do expect more cases.”

And yet, as local and state officials have stepped up their efforts to fight West Nile in the Dallas area, there has been a kind of backlash, with many residents growing more concerned about the aerial spraying than the virus itself.

More than 1,700 people signed an online petition on calling on Dallas officials to stop the spraying, describing it as ineffective, unsafe and harmful to insects like honeybees and ladybugs. A number of other cities in Texas and around the country do aerial spraying to reduce their mosquito populations — including New York, which recently sprayed over uninhabited wetlands on Staten Island — but this is the first time Dallas is doing so in more than 45 years.

Though officials in Dallas describe the procedure as safe and effective, they have added to some residents’ worries by advising those concerned about exposure to avoid being outside, close their windows and keep their pets inside while spraying occurs. “I think residents need to take the precautions that they’re comfortable with,” said Frank Librio, a city spokesman.

The aerial spraying was to begin Thursday at 10 p.m. in a 106,000-acre section of the city and county, including the wealthy areas of University Park and Highland Park. Twin-engine planes flying about 300 feet above the ground will spread a pesticide called Duet to kill the adult mosquito population.

Duet has been approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for ground and aerial use in outdoor residential and recreational areas, and it is similar to the pesticide the city has been using as part of a truck-mounted spraying operation it began in June. The last time Dallas conducted aerial spraying was in the summer of 1966, to combat an outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis, a mosquito-borne infection. That outbreak killed 14 people in the county.

The spraying operation this time is being led — and paid for — by the state. More than half of the human cases of infection in the United States this year are in Texas, which has confirmed more than 400 cases statewide.

More planes are scheduled to spray Friday night and possibly over the weekend. “The disease poses an immediate public health threat to Dallas County,” Dr. David Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a statement. “We need to use all possible tools, including aerial spraying, to fight this outbreak.”

Five of the 10 deaths in the county occurred in Dallas, the third-largest city in Texas, with a population of 1.2 million. Mayor Michael S. Rawlings declared the state of emergency on Wednesday, one week after officials issued a similar declaration for Dallas County. Dallas officials have asked the state to spray the entire city.

Dr. Petersen with the C.D.C. said it was difficult to say why the Dallas area has had such a severe outbreak, but he said that the early spring and the hot summer were likely culprits, because heat affects factors like mosquito abundance. Hot weather both increases the mosquito population and causes more of the virus to build up in their salivary glands.

“That summer in New York City when it was discovered in this country — 1999 — was a very hot summer,” Dr. Petersen said. “In 2002, 2003, when it was all over the U.S., it was abnormally hot. We had an early spring and abnormally hot weather this year, so that could be a factor.”

A spokeswoman for the New York City health department, Alexandra Waldhorn, said the city had only 3 cases so far, with only 11 in all of last season.

At 10:16 p.m. in University Park, a low-flying plane with two misty trails streaming behind it flew over James Smith, 41, who stood with his girlfriend on a shop-lined street near Southern Methodist University. He had no reservations about being outside.

“I think whatever the risk may be, if there’s any, it’s outweighed by the risk of the mosquitoes that are infecting people,” he said. “There’s a lot of things out there that can kill you. I don’t think this is one of them.”

Manny Fernandez reported from Dallas, and Donald G. McNeil Jr. from New York.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 17, 2012

An earlier version of this story referred imprecisely to mosquito-control efforts on Staten Island. The city sprayed in some uninhabited wetlands, not in residential areas

West Nile Outbreak Grows, nearly 700 cases reported

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on August 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Posted: Aug 15, 2012 4:40 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 18, 2012 7:00 AM EDT
(NBC) – West Nile virus is spreading faster than it has in previous summers.

The number of cases now nears 700, with nearly 30 deaths reported.

Jordan Connor, 14, of Texas is home from the hospital, recovering from a severe West Nile infection that led to encephalitis – inflammation of the brain.

She’s young and strong enough to recover.

Others, especially elderly patients, have not been as lucky.

Betty West’s husband of 65 years was the first one in North Carolina to die of the mosquito-borne disease this season.

“He had gotten so weak, we could barely get him out of the house,” she said.

Climate experts say the mild winter and rainy spring became the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, who get the virus from birds.

Although mosquitoes thrive on standing water, the drought has added to the problem.

“With fewer water sources, mosquitoes and birds find themselves closer together,” said Vanderbilt University’s Dr. William Schaffner.

So it’s been easier for mosquitoes to get infected, then transmit the virus to people.

Experts recommend using insect repellent outdoors, draining areas of standing water, and wearing long sleeves and pants when outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

Most West Nile victims have no symptoms and recover quickly.

First Westchester County, NY West Nile Mosquitoes of 2012

In Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on July 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Updated: July 20, 2012 8:35 PM

An undated file photo of a mosquito, a

Photo credit: Getty Images | An undated file photo of a mosquito, a carrier for the potentially lethal virus West Nile.

Lab tests have confirmed the first mosquitoes contaminated withWest Nile virus in Westchester County this summer, county health officials said Friday.

The “batch” of mosquitoes — found in Mamaroneck — was sent to a state Department of Health laboratory for testing.

“We expect to find mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus at about this time, so we hope confirmation of their presence reminds residents to take precautions” including using mosquito repellent and wearing protective clothing, Sherlita Amler, Westchester County’s health commissioner, said in a statement.

The midsummer find mirrors results last year, when health officials confirmed the first infected mosquitoes in early August. Overall, 32 batches of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus last year in Westchester County.

Across the river, health authorities in Rockland County found contaminated mosquitoes in late June, at least a month earlier than has been typical. The infected mosquitoes were found in Haverstraw and Ramapo, according to the Rockland County Health Department.

The lab tests prompted a response from County Legis. Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, who blamed County Executive Rob Astorino for trimming the health department’s budget. Because of budget cuts,Jenkins claimed, in 2011 Westchester County applied larvacide to 20,000 fewer catch basins than it did in 2010.

“In matters like public health and safety, I think we have to always move forward with an abundance of caution and vigilance,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Last year, the number of inspections and larvicide applications were reduced sharply from the previous year because of funding cuts by theAstorino Administration, and this short-sighted approach could lead to deadly consequences.”

West Nile virus was first identified in New York in 1999, and since then the virus has spread across the continental U.S. Although most people don’t realize they’ve been exposed, the virus can have serious consequences for the very young or old and people with existing health conditions or compromised immune systems.

West Nile fever, the less-severe form, can lead to symptoms similar to the common cold or flu, including headache, nausea, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, according the Centers for Disease Control.

More serious infections can have debilitating symptoms, such as confusion and loss of consciousness, tremors, muscle weakness and vision loss.

Stagnant water is the best breeding ground for the virus, and Amler urged people to “remove standing water from gutters and play equipment, empty buckets and other containers around your property, and turn over children’s pools after their use.”

The health department offered a list of tips and recommendations:

Avoid the outdoors in the early evening when mosquitoes are active and feeding. Use insect repellents when outdoors during these times, following the repellent directions. Adults can apply insect repellents with up to 30 percent DEET onto their own hands and then rub the repellent onto their children. Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under two months old.

Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are feeding.

Check around property for cans, containers and ceramic pots and discard or turn them over.

Check and remove standing water from children’s toys, pools, wheelbarrows and play houses.

Remove discarded tires.

Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are left outdoors.

Change the water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.

Sweep driveways after it rains to clear puddles.

Keep storm drains and gutters clear of leaves and debris.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas and hot tubs and drain water that collects on their covers.

Residents who notice large areas of standing water on public property that could serve as potential mosquito breeding grounds should report it to the Westchester County Department of Health by calling 914-813-5000 or emailing the Health Department at

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