West Nile Virus Hits Again
By: ARBICO Organics Staff
The West Nile Virus has returned this season. With 265 reported cases and six deaths across the country health officials are concerned. “People should not wait on reports of cases of West Nile in their communities before taking personal precautions. We are all at risk,” said Arizona Department of Health Services Director Catherine Eden.
The disease was first identified in Uganda during 1937. It was most commonly found in Africa, West Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The origin seems to be linked to birds, which are then bitten by mosquitoes that become carriers of the disease. The virus first started appearing in the United States in 1999, around the New York area. Though scientists hoped it would not survive its first winter, the disease has stayed in the states and slowly moved westward. Health officials have reported the range of those afflicted is anywhere from 3 months to 87 years. The disease however has not been isolated to simply the young, old and sick; people of all ages are becoming infected.
Animals have also been hit hard with the disease. Since 1999, thousands of animals have been diagnosed with the disease. Equine facilities are especially concerned about the disease. The fatality rate of horses afflicted with the disease is 35-40 percent. “I've already lost one horse, I won't let that happen again,” Alvin Towne a horse owner in Vail stated. “I am urging all my horse owner friends to take the offensive against West Nile Virus.”
There are many new responses to this disease, including biological mosquito control. This idea though is not a new one, and has been around for about ten years. “People are just starting to realize that there are non-chemical options available. There is no reason to use chemicals and poisons anymore,” said Rick Frey, president of ARBICO Organics. The idea has taken off locally and spread across the country. When asked about ARBICO’s mosquito program Tucson Mountain View Country Club general manager said, “We started working with ARBICO three years ago and have established a monthly treatment program with positive results. It really works.” The response has been very positive. “People are always very excited when they find out about our mosquito control,” says Terri Davenport, sales associate at ARBICO. “They call and want all the information they can get their hands on, not just for themselves but for their neighbors and friends as well. The bottom line is they do not want to have to worry about being outside or about harmful chemicals.”
Symptoms of the virus include head-ache, high fever, stupor, disorientation, weakness, and even paralysis, though most infected with the virus will not have any symptoms. The virus can escalate into serious health problems such as encephalitis or meningitis, causing death in some cases. In horses the symptoms include listlessness, depression, loss of appetite, stumbling and clumsiness, muscle twitching, paralysis, inability to stand. If you think your horse may be infected to immediately contact your local veterinarian and your local government health agency. It cannot be spread from animal to animal or animal to person.
Some More Helpful Tips to Prevent West Nile Virus:
• Wear insect repellent and lightweight protective clothing.
• Avoid the peak mosquito hours of evening and early morning.
• Frequently clean out standing water areas and receptacles.
• Repair leaky pipes, move air conditioner drain hoses often, and install well-fitting protective screens.
• Report dead birds to local authorities. Birds are the carrier for this disease!
• Educate yourself and your neighbor- hood about West Nile Virus and the environmentally friendly solutions that are available!
For more information on West Nile Virus contact ARBICO at 1-800-827-2847