It’s getting downright dangerous to venture outside. Ticksare abundant and mosquito-borne West Nile virus is sweepingthe U.S. Two infected dead crows were even found on theWhite House lawn.
West Nile virus first turned up in New York, but it’s nowmoving south, especially to Louisiana, where 16 people havecome down with the disease. After major rains and flooding,which can attract mosquitoes, the disease has turned up inTexas as well. Several cases are suspected in Mississippi,Oklahoma and North Dakota.
“It is going to be here to stay,” says Daniel O’Leary, ofthe Centers for Disease Control. “We are going to have tolive with it in our midst.”
Meanwhile, a disease similar to Lyme disease called Master?sdisease has shown up in the South as well. The symptoms ofMaster’s are similar to those of Lyme disease, including the”bulls-eye” rash that identifies the disease, as well asfever, fatigue and aches and pains. Scientists think the newdisease is caused by the lone star tick, which has a yellowstar-shaped patch on its back. This tick is different fromthe deer tick, which transmits Lyme bacteria to humans.
Lone star ticks live in the south, from Texas to Florida andup to Virginia, while the deer tick’s range is in thenortheastern states, where most cases still occur.
Sam Telford, who researches Master?s disease at HarvardUniversity, thinks Master?s disease is much more common thanthe number of cases reported, because it?s usuallymisdiagnosed as Lyme disease. Thankfully, the sameantibiotics are used to treat both diseases. Telford saysthe incidence of Master’s disease “must be huge becausethese ticks are just a nightmare. They’re so abundant andvery aggressive. They’re places where you could get 2,000ticks crawling up your leg.”
Be safe ? stay home and read this summer. Take a magicalvoyage with ?Secrets of the Ancient Incas? by Michael PeterLangevin, clickhere.
To learn about West NileVirus,clickhere and here.
To learn about ticks,http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20020723-052043-7931r,clickhere.
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