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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.


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 Warning for Montanans

In DEET, Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on July 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Posted: July 19, 2012 10:59 AM by Melissa Anderson (Helena)

Mosquitoes are loving the recent weather conditions in Montana, and while the pesky insects are mostly annoying, they can also spread a dangerous virus.

Montana health officials are cautioning people to be aware that mosquito bites can carry West Nile virus, and besides using mosquito repellent, there are some other ways people can protect themselves.

Lewis & Clark County public health nurse Mike Henderson said, “You can prevent bites of course by covering up your skin. Long sleeves, long pants, especially at dusk and dawn. And if we can take measures to prevent where mosquitoes are going to be able to breed. Drain any standing water around your place at least once a week.”

Infection by West Nile virus occurs in about three to 14 days after being bitten and while most people who get bit won’t have any symptoms, some people may develop a headache, fever, fatigue and joint stiffness.

Mosquitoes mob Green Valley in Washington; residents organize to zap swarms

In DEET, West Nile Virus on June 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Workers and farming families in the Green Valley in Yakima County are trying to start a mosquito-control service area or join an existing district. They say the bugs are biting into worker safety, the bottom line and human health.

Dengue-Malaria Scare Looms Hindustan

In Dengue Fever, Malaria on April 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

Dengue-malaria scare looms, health dept has no
plans or enough staff
The fear of malaria and dengue is looming large over the city this year as well. Besides, the health department
claims lack of manpower to carry out any preventive measures such as fogging and others to check this menace.
A large number of city residents fall prey to malaria and dengue every year.
In 2011, the city reported 153 cases of dengue. Nine people lost their lives. The city also reported 526 malaria
And this year, as summer is approaching, the department has again showed its helplessness citing lack of
manpower to carry out fogging in the city. At present, the malarial wing of the department has 16 people and the
district health department has written a letter to the state health department for an additional 120 people.
“We have shortage ofstaff in the district. But we willstill carry out fogging and other measures to control the
problem. We are waiting for additional manpower,” said Dr Parveen Garg, chief medical officer.
Residents allege that the health department has not initiated fogging and other preventive measures till now. Last
year, the department was avoiding fogging and other measures saying that fogging was ‘not good’ for health and
was expensive. But this year they do not have manpower.
Riti Singal, resident of Kendriya Vihar said, “These things should have been done well in advance. Now when
mosquitoes have started ruling, the department realised that they do not have manpower. By now things would
have been clear how to control this menace. But they are waiting for some positive cases.”
© Copyright © 2012 HT Media Limited. AllRights Reserved.

Rio Declares Dengue Epidemic

In Dengue Fever on April 30, 2012 at 8:35 am

Transmitted by mosquitoes, dengue can cause fever, headaches, rashes and bleeding.

By Agence France-PresseWed, Apr 25 2012 at 1:13 PM EST
A boy receives a handout as part of a preventive campaign against dengue fever
AWARENESS: A boy receives a handout as part of a preventive campaign against dengue fever in Brazil in 2011. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro has declared a dengue epidemic after diagnosing more than 50,000 cases of the tropical mosquito-borne infection this year and over 500 in the last week alone.
“We have a plan focused on the epidemic and we continue to be in a state of alert,” Hans Dohmann, the city’s health secretary, said late on April 24, adding that the number of cases had surpassed 300 per 100,000 residents per month.
State-run Agencia Brasil meanwhile reported that 517 people had been struck with the disease last week alone.
The state of Rio de Janeiro has reported a total of 64,423 confirmed cases thus far this year, with 13 deaths, 12 in the city itself.
Last year authorities recorded 168,242 cases and 140 deaths.
Dengue is caused by any one of four viruses transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, skin rash and mild bleeding. In its advanced stage the disease causes hemorrhages.
The World Health Organization estimates there are 50-100 million dengue infections worldwide each year.
Copyright 2012  AFP Global Edition

141 Repellent to Compete for Deployed War Fighter Protection (DWFP) Grant

In DEET, Dengue Fever, Lyme Disease, Malaria, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on July 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

We hope to compete for this grant to help us further develop our repellent.

From: Burkett, Douglas LtCol OSD ATL
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 9:10 AM
Subject: Deployed War Fighter Protection (DWFP) call for Pre-proposals (Suspense: COB 9 Sept 2011)

MEMORANDUM FOR Deployed War Fighter Protection (DWFP) Competitive Grant Pre-proposal submitters July 28 2011

SUBJECT: DWFP Call For FY12 Pre-Proposals (Suspense: COB 9 Sept 2011)

Dear Colleagues,

As the Research Liaison Officer for the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB), I continue to have the distinct pleasure of announcing this year’s call for DWFP pre-proposals for competitive grants. This year we have about $1.0M available for new starts (5-8 new projects). We will consider all applications related to development and testing of public health (PH) related application technologies, pesticides and repellents.

This year’s emphasis will primarily focus on new materials, equipment and application methods targeting mosquitoes, phlebotomine sand flies, and filth flies; new or established pesticides and products used in novel ways; new or improved synergists and formulations; and alternatives to pyrethroids for treatment of clothing for personal protection against biting insects. DWFP is especially amenable to grants that transition products from lab to commercial partners for use by both the military and for general public health vector control purposes.

The official announcement can be found at with the full application, submission details and embedded links for submitting pre-proposals for FY 2012 at: The call for pre-proposals is also posted at Please forward this announcement as appropriate to colleagues and researchers who may not be on the distribution list or in our community.

On behalf of the AFPMB and our deployed forces, we appreciate any of your efforts to develop new tools and products for protection of deployed personnel against vector-borne diseases, with value for wider applications against pests and vectors of public health importance. Should you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, or our DWFP Technical Consultant, Dr Graham White: office            352-374-5968      , cell             352-328-9473      ,

Most Sincerely,

//Signed/dab/29 July 2011//

Lt Col Douglas A. Burkett, PhD
Research Liaison Officer / Deployed War Fighter Protection (DWFP) Program Manager Armed Forces Pest Management Board, ODUSD (I&E) Forest Glen, Bldg. 172
2461 Linden Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20190-1230
Office:             (301) 295-8315       (DSN 295)
BB:             703 380 0099

“Malaria bednets (should be used) to protect themselves… not as chicken cages or garden fences,”

In Malaria on July 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Malaria Fight Hits Snag

Amos Nyambane | 29 Jun 2011
An NGO yesterday said mosquito nets are being misused in Kisii and Nyamira counties. The organisation said this is hampering the campaign against malaria in the areas. “The misuse of mosquito nets is greatly affecting the malaria campaigns in the regions. People must understand that they are issued with the nets to protect themselves from the disease not as chicken cages or garden fences,” said Douglas Mobasi, Perlin Project manager.

Mobasi said the a rapid assessment survey carried out by the organization in March this year, revealed that some locals avoid using the nets claiming allergy. “Over 80 percent of locals had nets but a section of them never used the gadgets because lacked beds to hang them. Others hid them under the pretext they were uncomfortable thus hindering the fight against the ailment,” he said.

Mobasi said the predominance rate of malaria in the region declined with 86 percent of children below five years and 73 percent of pregnant women sleeping under the nets in that order. Addressing a one day stakeholder’s workshop at Dado Hotel in Kisii, the manager challenged the locals having the nets to use them for the prevention of malaria.

Cambodia launches campaign to mark national day against dengue

In Dengue Fever on June 20, 2011 at 4:49 am

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) – Cambodia launched a large-scale campaign here on Monday to mark the national day against dengue fever as the country’s annual rainy season came.

The event was jointly launched by Minister of Health Mam Bunheng and Minister of Education Im Sithy, and participated by government officials, representatives of World Health Organization, relevant stakeholders and some 500 students.

Speaking during the launching, Mam Bunheng said that the celebration was to promote awareness among the public and to encourage them to join together to prevent dengue fever.

“Dengue is caused by mosquitoes, so to prevent the disease, I’d like to appeal to all parents, guardians and students to kill larvae by using the chemical substance known as Abate in water pots and other still water sources,” he said. “Moreover, we have to fill in puddles around houses, which are sources of mosquitoes.”

The minister also encouraged people to sleep under mosquito nets and to raise “seven-colored” fish in their water pots to eat larva.

The outbreak of dengue fever usually begins at the onset of the rainy season from May to October in Cambodia.

The disease causes an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands and rash.

At least 11 Cambodian children have died from the disease so far this year with other 1,924 infected, said Ngan Chantha, Director of Dengue Control at the Ministry of Health. It is “a sharp increase” from last year’s 7 deaths with 1,395 infected cases. More



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