The West Nile Virus: Are You In Danger?

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Spraying for Mosquitos

In some areas, like Texas, more extreme measures are taking place such as aerial and ground spraying. The Texas Department of State Health Services explains the aerial application; a twin-turbine engine plane will fly 300 feet above the ground at 170mph spraying a repellent called Duet.
The pesticide is a fine mist (droplets smaller than a pin head) at a very low dose; about a ounce per acre. Duet is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and labeled as safe for humans, pets, animals, and the environment. The active ingredient, Sumithrin, has been approved for mosquito control since 1987. Sumithrin, also known as d-Phenothrin, is an active ingredient in lice shampoo, pet products, and is used to provide flea and cockroach control inside the home.

West Nile Mosquito Outbreak

A mild winter, followed by a hot summer, is one possible cause for the outbreak. Photo by Alistair Murdoch.

No one really knows why there has been such a large outbreak of WNV this year. Decoded Science asked Nordlund what the CDC’s thoughts were on the increase of this virus, and she responded: “It is not clear why there is more West Nile virus activity this year than in recent years. Although we do know that many factors could be contributing to the increase. The weather, numbers of birds that maintain the virus, numbers of mosquitoes that spread the virus, and human behavior are all factors that can influence when and where outbreaks occur. The unusually mild winter, early spring, and hot summer in many parts of the country might have fostered conditions favorable to breeding the mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus to people. CDC has two teams of scientists in Texas assisting the Texas State Department of Health with figuring out why there is such a large outbreak there.”

The CDC and local health departments continue to work at decreasing the mosquito population and preventing disease. By taking action around your own home, you can help keep the West Nile virus away from your family as well.

Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile Virus – Update Insect Repellents. (2012). Accessed August 31, 2012.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile Virus: What You Need To Know. (2012). Accessed August 31, 2012.

Texas Department of State Health Services. West Nile Virus in Texas. (2012). Accessed August 31, 2012.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. d-Phenothrin; Pesticide Tolerance. (2009). Accessed August 31, 2012.

World Health Organization. West Nile Virus. (2011). Accessed August 31, 2012.

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