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Agency Says West Nile Is Spreading Fast

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Bardo Thodol

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Look at the map in the actual article at The Times Leader where I found the article.

Agency Says West Nile Is Spreading Fast


Associated Press

ATLANTA - The West Nile Virus is spreading faster than federal health officials had expected, with the number of cases tripling to at least 164 since last week.

In the latest warning about the rapid advance of the mosquito-borne disease, Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday that this year's tally will likely break last year's record.

"The numbers are starting to change very, very quickly," said Gerberding. "That is very concerning."

State health officials report seven people - all of them elderly - have died from the virus. Four of the deaths were reported in Colorado, the hardest-hit state.

Health officials had expected the disease to spread this year to all corners of the country, invading Western states previously unscathed. But they appeared somewhat surprised at its speed.

"It indicates we are starting the epidemic with more cases than last year," Gerberding said. She warned of "a great number of infected people."

Nationwide, the CDC said at least 164 people in 16 states are infected, compared with 59 a week ago. The latest figures do not include new cases reported by Colorado health officials, which the CDC had not verified.

Last year, 4,156 people in the United States tested positive for the virus, and 284 died. There were 112 cases in four states at this point in 2002, when the United States suffered the biggest reported outbreak of West Nile encephalitis in the world.

West Nile virus rarely kills, and in fact most infected people show no symptoms and thus go uncounted in the tally of cases, experts say. But about 1 in 150 people who get the virus will develop its potentially deadly encephalitis or meningitis. Most often, it affects the elderly. Of its seven victims this year, the youngest was 68.

Why four of the deaths happened in Colorado, which reported 154 cases Thursday, is somewhat a mystery. Some experts blame the outbreak on a wet June and very hot July, which they say provided the perfect summer for mosquitoes.

"I can't predict what will happen in Colorado, nor can I completely explain why it is happening," Gerberding said.

Colorado differs from other states because it reports mild cases that some do not report, said state epidemiologist John Pape. The CDC has only confirmed 72 Colorado cases.

Last year, that state had about a dozen cases. Four states - Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Oregon - had no signs of the disease in man or animal.

"If it can increase that dramatically in Colorado, it has the potential to do so in Arizona," said Craig Levy of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "That certainly makes us very nervous."

Until Colorado's first death a week ago, the virus had never killed anyone west of the Great Plains states.

The CDC is urging people in the 16 states where the virus has appeared to use mosquito repellent, cover arms and legs with clothing and avoid early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.

Those states are Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.

Since West Nile first entered this country through New York in 1999, health officials have tried everything - mosquito spraying and other control efforts, prevention messages and disease detection systems.

But there's no way to prevent the virus from spreading and there's no way to predict which areas it will strike hardest, said Dr. Sue Montgomery of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, Louisiana had more than 300 cases and 25 deaths from the virus. They did "everything ... according to the book and we had a large epidemic," recalls Dr. Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

"It's like a viral hurricane."

Most people who are infected with the virus won't get sick. The CDC says about a fifth of those will develop a fever, headache, body aches and sometimes a rash and swollen lymph glands.

Symptoms for West Nile encephalitis or meningitis include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation and sometimes paralysis.

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Guest LauraKrycek
Greeeaaat.  Kentucky.  That means I have to buy some Off!.  And with it there and in Alabama, it's only a matter of time before it hits Tennessee.  I hate bugs.  Still nursing a painful yellow jacket sting on my left ankle.  Surely there's some way to kill all the nasty bugs in the world.
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Indeed, I was somewhat startled by the coverage concerning the contagion's tripling of cases this past week.  Then again, this sort of news is becoming the standard where drastic contagions are concerned.  The head of the Centers for Disease Control recently made the somewhat bizarre and unexpected statement that SARS and West Nile should be considered "the new normal," that plagues and sickness in the future will quite likely be at this level of lethality.  Now, I'm not one to go seeking larger meaning behind natural occurances but it sometimes seems hard not to think that nature is constantly upping the stakes in an effort to keep up with our advances.

And we are doing a fine job of fighting back...

Ebola Vaccine Finally Works, In Monkeys

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Guest Wellington


I heard too of this new normality. I think it has to do with the fact that we better understand diseases or viruses than before. In that case I think that ignorance is bliss: catch more than a cold and it falls into 2 categories. The first one are the healable diseases and the second one is the still-leathal diseases. When doctors were little more than latin speaking savant monkeys, you just died from something and this something had a very big family. Now we identify and heal, and what remains lethal may get more importance in a statistical way. Or maybe not, but that is how I feel!

Regarding the Nile virus in Canada, Ontario seems traditionally the center of the spread, and there is no much noise about it in Quebecer news, which is weird, but we already have the price of the gas to complain about, so better not to overload the few neurons left in my fellow citizens' brain.  :angry_big:


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Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense that viruses and diseases of all kinds are on the rise.  Homo sapiens long ago have way over populated the ecological carrying capacity of the Earth to sustain human life healthfully.  When any species exceeds the ecological carrying capacity of a given territory, the result is all kinds of increases of disease, starvation, sickness, insanity, non-typical levels of inter-species aggression, and in some cases preying on each other.

Hmmmmm... sounds familiar, doesn't it?  I'd say the human species has is well into this process.

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