West Nile Virus cases steadily increase.
2002 saw the number of cases of West Nile encephalitis in the United States soar to 4,156 human cases and 284 deaths--the largest in the world. Prior to 1999, no cases of WNV had ever been reported in this country. With the encephalitis outbreak that year, there were 62 diagnosed human cases and seven deaths; in 2090, 21 human cases and two deaths; in 2001, 66 and nine.
"There is no way to prevent the virus from spreading or to predict which areas it will strike the hardest," says Dr. Sue Montgomery of the CDC. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center is working with CDC to learn the current geographic extent of WNV. Its disease scientists, by way of specialized biological containment facilities, provide diagnostic support and research results to public health departments utilizing dead wild birds as sentinels for detecting WNV. Wild-bird mortality is an accurate indicator of the extent of WNV and provides an early warning system for the emergence of the virus in new locations. The three-year study focuses on the probable dissemination of WNV along migratory corridors.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also supports researchers investigating how WNV disseminates throughout the environment via an International Centers for Infectious Disease Research program in Mexico. The research studies whether migrating bird populations carry the virus from its presumed point of entrance into the Western Hemisphere (New York City) to points in Central and South America. Wild birds and chickens in the Yucatan Peninsula are also being examined for evidence of exposure to West Nile Virus. Birds might be year-round reservoirs for the viruses that cause encephalomyelitis and St. Louis encephalitis.
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|Publication:||Medical Laboratory Observer|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2003|
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