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  • the_nervous_resistor the_nervous_resistor Apr 16, 2003 2:08 PM Flag

    Michigan question. West Nile Virus.

    A question for the Midlanders on the board: what's the skinny on West Nile Virus for the coming summer in Michigan? What are families doing for their kids? My reason for asking has to do with family members spending time back there this summer.

    And my timing for this posting has to do with an odd comment that I over heard in our local coffee shop this morning. A woman said to her friends that now the war was over, she just had to worry about WNV. Wierd comment, but her tone, demeanor, and appearance were pretty normal. The SARS problem has had folks thinking about travel, etc. But we really don't have a massive SARS issue. We have WNV.

    Thanks for any info.


    ps. Anyone else in Canada or Texas or Louisiana are welcome to respond too.

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    • Good question on West Nile. In spite of not being on your approved responder list, as a native Texan, I will respond anyway.

      4 new deaths in Michigan this year, 51 total, 284 deaths so far in the US since last summer as opposed to ~150 worldwide for SARS. (SARS is growing faster, but mosquito season is not here yet. Could be neck and neck by summers end, I figure SARS will take the lead in US next winter).

      The way to avoid West Nile is simple....don't get bit by mosquitos.

      DEET is best to use, but cannot be used full strength on kids. Bite Blocker is just as good as dilute DEET(less than 10% as recommended for kids). Either is safe that way, just gotta use it more often.

    • This should help. MI has a web site on the issue.

      State is working to get the buzz out on West Nile prevention

      Web site, increased monitoring on agenda

      Monday, April 14, 2003

      Ann Arbor News Bureau

      LANSING - With warm weather ushering in the mosquito season, state health officials today are launching a Web site and a campaign to thwart the deadly West Nile virus, which killed 51 Michigan residents and sickened another 593 last year.

      State officials are stepping up monitoring and prevention efforts this year after being criticized last year for being slow to react.

      "We fully expect West Nile to return this year, but to what extent we just don't know," said Geralyn Lasher, Community Health Department spokeswoman. "The key is to minimize exposure to mosquitoes."

      A major difference in the state's efforts this year is a centralized Web site. People can log on to to report dead crows or blue jays, which can then be tested for the disease. Last year, the state used a telephone hotline that quickly became overburdened, Lasher said.

      The site also has prevention and planning tips for people and local governments on everything from community spraying to wearing long sleeves.

      Washtenaw County is in a unique position this year, as neighboring Wayne and Oakland counties got more than half of all human cases of the virus last year. Yet not one human case was reported in Washtenaw. Officials aren't sure if the virus will bypass the county or hit hard locally this year.

      State officials hope the Web site will help people avoid West Nile.

      "This is a dramatic improvement over last year," said Mark Bertler, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Local Public Health Departments. "Any citizen, any community now has ready access to the information they need to battle this."

      Still, Bertler said the state probably should have moved more quickly this year.

      "I think we were lucky because it's been so cold," Bertler said. "But it certainly hasn't been for a lack of commitment; it's been the challenge of other challenges, including SARS and bioterrorism preparations."

      First discovered in Uganda in 1937, West Nile spreads through the bite of the culex mosquito. The disease was first detected in the United States in 1999 in New York. Last spring, it was detected in a dead crow in Michigan. The first two human cases were reported in August. By December, 51 people were dead statewide.

      "I don't think anyone expected to see that many cases," Lasher said.

      Michigan was second only to Illinois, which had 60 deaths.

      "No one really knows why that happened," Bertler said.

      The state is encouraging communities to use larvicides as their first line of defense, Lasher said. Communitywide spraying should only be used if there's a human exposure, she said.

      Spray programs are regulated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and require notification of the public.

    • Hey Nervous,

      SARS is a real problem in the Toronto area (take note Charlie) as it seems to be growing because people, who may be affected, refuse to go into voluntary quaranteen for two weeks. Consequently, they expose more and more people. So far, the concern seems to be focusing on direct contact. For example, a nurse places a plastic identification band on a victim's wrist and becomes infected. More and more, people are wearing masks to prevent airborne exposure. This is causing local business people to scream blue murder because it is frightening off business. If you want an up-to-date playback to SARS, do a Google on the Globe and Mail. Older people with other medical problems (reduced immune systems) seem to be the first casualties.

      WNV continues to be a problem in the South Western Ontario area. More and more dead birds are being found on our nature trails. I take a Petite Bassett hunting hound out for a walk every day (along with a cool, calm yellow lab) and the hound finds every single one of the dead birds. We are asked to notify the health people of our findings and not to touch the deads birds.

      Mosquitos are a real problem in wetland areas and most people are using sprays, staying away from bushy areas and wearing long sleeved, coverup type clothing. Way back in the forty's, as children, we went out to play in suits of mosquito netting. It hasn't come to this yet wrt WNV, but it's only a matter of time.

      Take care.


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