Sunday, August 11, 2002

Hype V. Facts

The West Nile virus story is getting a lot of play, especially in television news. It makes for a scary story: a virus appears in the US for the first time ever in 1999. It spread westward, slowly and steadily. Then folks begin to die. A cluster of deaths occurs, leading to a detailed examination and BAM! Suddenly you have panic.

Well, read this story to help put your mind at ease. It turns out:
In 1975, an outbreak of the mosquito-borne St.
Louis encephalitis spread through 29 states, killing 95 people and
infecting about 3,000 others. The following year, infection rates
were down, and they have stayed down over the decades that

Health officials expect a similar trend with West Nile virus...

The first notable outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis occurred in
1974. The illness is still around today, but the number of cases
yearly has fallen dramatically. Last year, four people died in the
Monroe, La., area from St. Louis encephalitis, and 62 were

Given the history of West Nile and related illnesses, it's not likely
the outbreak will increase exponentially next year, Slavinski said.
In 1999, seven people died, and 55 others were hospitalized in
New York with West Nile virus. The state hasn't reported any
cases this summer.
So, relax. You should still, as always, take precautions against mosquito bites and get rid of the standing water pools that allow them to breed. But fears of an epidemic are, unsurprisingly, over-blown.

Elephant Rants has a brief, pungent and cut-to-the-point commentary here. It's worth the quick read.

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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