|Schwarzenegger Orders Aggressive West Nile Virus Surveillance |
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has expanded the fight against the deadly West Nile virus by issuing an executive order that empowers local agencies to fight the mosquito-borne virus. California is the worst affected state in the US with 198 people contacting the West Nile virus infection.
Among them ten cases have proved fatal this year. Furthermore 722 birds have tested positive for the virus in California this year. Around 673 positive mosquito samples were found this year as opposed to the 575 in 2006.
Last month Governor Schwarzenegger issued executive orders to fund the fight against West Nile Virus by mosquito abatement, surveillance and vegetation management.
“Protecting public safety is government’s top job – that’s why I’m committed to ensuring our local agencies have all the tools they need to fight this deadly mosquito-borne disease,” the Governor said of his latest executive order.
In August the Governor has declared a State of Emergency in the counties of Kern, Colusa and San Joaquin and had allocated funds to prevent the spread of the West Nile virus. In issuing the latest orders, he reminded Californians to "protect themselves against mosquito bites – including getting rid of standing water, wearing insect repellent and staying inside during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active."
According to the CDC, West Nile virus infection is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness and this year is predicted to be the worst season in the United States.
Although West Nile infection is mild in many cases, one in 150 people can develop severe symptoms, which include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
Milder symptoms can include fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. The worst of the symptoms arise when West Nile virus invades the neurological system.
According to the CDC, West Nile virus infection is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness and this year is predicted to be the worst season because of the increasing number of human cases reported thus far.
Preventing West Nile virus infection is the best way to cure it, according to health experts. This is mainly because there is no cure for the disease. Even Canada has not been spared this year as the Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed 234 human cases, 1,704 infected birds and 1,573 positive polls of West Nile Virus as of August 25, 2007.
West Nile encephalitis and West Nile meningitis are forms of severe disease that affect a person’s nervous system. Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain; meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
In 1999 the West Nile virus made its first appearance in the United States. Seven people died in the New York region, while 55 others were sickened.
Last year there were a total of 4269 West Nile virus infections reported to the CDC among which 177 proved lethal. The worst affected state in terms of fatalities was Texas with 32 deaths in the 354 cases reported to the CDC.
Idaho followed the fatality charts with 21 deaths among the 956 West Nile infections reported to the CDC.
In the United States human cases have been reported to the CDC from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Avian, animal or mosquito WNV infections have also been reported to CDC ArboNET from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Overall 906 human cases of mosquito-borne West Nile virus infection have been reported nationwide, according to the latest report from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Consumers must be aware that the West Nile Virus season is almost over, but that does not mean the threat of infection has decreased. Prevention is always better than cure, so please follow the measures proposed by the CDC,
* When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
* Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
* Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
* Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.
For more information call the CDC public response hotline
At (888) 246-2675 (English), (888) 246-2857 (Español), or (866) 874-2646 (TTY)