Eliminating the West Nile Virus threat safely and cheaply

Published 6:49 pm Monday, September 10, 2012

Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by Dr. Brian Crissey of Mill Spring. On Aug. 29 a case of West Nile Virus at St. Luke’s Hospital was confirmed by the N.C. State Laboratory. The patient, who was released from the hospital and doing well according to hospital officials, had traveled out of the state before becoming ill. Dr. Crissey and his wife, Pamela, are co-authors of “Common Sense in Uncommon Times: Survival Techniques for a Changing World.” The second edition is in final editing process and will soon be available at Amazon.
Every state in the lower 48 is under assault by six species of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. The virus survives in animal populations and is spread to humans by female mosquitoes that have fed on an infected animal. As of Sept. 4, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2,000 people have become sick and 87 people have died, marking a 25-percent increase in the number of cases and a 32-percent increase in deaths from the previous week. The virus is now in Polk County, as reported in the Bulletin on Sept. 7.
About 20 percent of those bitten by infected mosquitoes become ill with flu-like symptoms that may last for weeks, and about 1 percent develop severe infections that can cause life-threatening nervous system complications like meningitis or encephalitis.
Controlling West Nile Virus by spraying insecticides is a poor choice compared to proactive mosquito control (see below). Spraying mosquitoes is expensive, nonselective, and must be kept up indefinitely. In time, resistant strains will evolve, just as bacteria will adapt to the overuse of antibiotics. Dallas, Texas, is using Permethrin, which is highly toxic to honeybees, fish and aquatic invertebrates because of its disruption of sodium channels. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating perhaps a third of the nation’s food supply, and aquatic invertebrates are at the root of the food chain that supports a healthy fish life in rivers, streams and lakes.
Pro-active mosquito control is effective, organic, free and harmless to bees and streams. Here is how it works: Encourage all citizens in the county to place a light-colored bowl of water outside their main door and let it stagnate. (The light color is so that they can see the wigglers when they appear.)
After feeding on humans or animals, female mosquitoes will lay hundreds of eggs there, which in two days hatch into larvae called wigglers (see photo above). Adults emerge after a week and live up to two months, spreading the virus. If people empty the bowls and refill them before the adults emerge, the reproductive chain is broken, helping to control the spread of the disease.
Unmonitored bowls will make the infestation worse, but with effective community participation, pro-active mosquito control can eliminate the issue at almost no cost, while protecting honeybees, the food supply and streams and rivers. Eliminating or oiling other stagnant water sites is helpful, of course, but not all such sites can be found. Every rainstorm leaves stagnant water inside of trees and in clogged gutters, for example. It is late in the season now, but this strategy can be implemented until the first freeze and then restarted after the last frost.
An individual should manage only one bowl, so that bowls do not get forgotten.
– article submitted
by Brian L. Crissey, Ph.D.

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