West Nile Virus, which has plagued Northeastern summers since 1999, has returned. Dead crows in two New Jersey communities have tested positive for the virus. When the deadly virus first burst into New York, it caused an epidemic that left 7 people dead, and last year 2 people died from it. Symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and?rarely?death.
The disease is caused by bites from infected mosquitoes and is deadly to many species of birds. Middlesex and Bergen counties, where the dead crows were found, are both increasing their surveillance for mosquitoes. Last year at least one species of mosquitoes that hibernate during the winter was found to be carrying the West Nile virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New Jersey state officials said that people should use mosquito repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts outdoors and try to stay inside at dawn and in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
West Nile already has the Utah Health Department worried. ?We don?t feel the virus is here yet, but we are concerned about it,? says Gary Hatch. ?The potential that it will make it to Utah is definitely there.? They will test mosquito-bitten chickens for the virus, taking blood samples from the animals throughout the summer.
If Utah officials find infected chickens, this does not necessarily mean than there will be an outbreak among humans. ?In areas where mosquitoes do carry the virus, very few mosquitoes?less than one percent?are infected,? the CDC reports. ?If the mosquito is infected, less than one percent of people who get bitten and become infected will get seriously ill.?
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