West Nile Virus Teleconference from CDC

Last Editorial Review: 7/30/2002

ATLANTA, July 30 --  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a telebriefing on July 25, 2002 in regard to the recent developments regarding the West Nile virus in the United States.

Dr. Daniel O'Leary, from the CDC provided the following information during the CDC telebriefing which we at MedicineNet.com consider important and wish to share with you.

Summary of the CDC Telebriefing

During 2002, West Nile virus activity was reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 25 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia.

There have been a total of 12 human cases of brain infection with West Nile. All of those cases were reported from Louisiana and Mississippi: eleven from Louisiana and one from Mississippi. Among these cases, eight were men. The range of ages was 34 to 88 years, and their dates of onset of illness ranged from June 10th to July 11th. None of these 12 cases are fatalities.

Additionally, there have been three states -- North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas -- that have reported their first-ever West Nile Virus activity, but so far only in birds, horses, and mosquitoes, with no human cases. The spread to these three latter states -- North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas -- demonstrate that West Nile virus is continuing to move Westward in the United States.

Dead Birds

Next, dead birds, particularly blue jays and crows, remain the most important indicators of West Nile virus activity in a given region, and their collection and testing by state and local health departments should be a mainstay in these jurisdictions' surveillance programs. The capture and testing of mosquitoes is, additionally, very important as a mainstay of state-level surveillance, and additionally, surveillance for West Nile Virus in horses and other equines has proven a valuable surveillance tool to indicate the early earning of West Nile activity in select areas.

At a minimum, we're asking states to conduct human surveillance to include West Nile virus testing for patients with encephalitis or of a cause to which other diagnoses cannot be ascribed.

The Prevention Message

The prevention message here is that human and animal illness prevention, it depends on sustained and long-term control of the mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus, especially in populated areas. Detection should happen as early as possible, and it should be followed by intensified mosquito control in areas where the virus is found, especially in populated areas. People should also take personal responsibility for protecting themselves against mosquito bites, including the use of protective clothing and the use of repellents.

The Final Line

The final line is that West Nile virus is endemic or it is now established in the United States and that personal protection against mosquitoes, effective mosquito control at the local level and early detection are all mainstays of prevention.

For More Information

For more information about the West Nile virus, please visit the MedicineNet.com West Nile Fever Center.

The above information has been provided with the kind permission of the CDC. The link to read the entire CDC Telebriefing is: (http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/transcripts/t020725.htm).


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