The six-year old <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health and shows no signs of abating. Last year, there were more than 2,500 serious cases and 100 deaths. Still early in this year's West Nile virus season (there is a time lag during which animals are infected, mosquitoes convey the virus to humans, and the virus incubates until symptoms occur), the mosquito-borne virus has been found in animal hosts (primarily birds) in 44 states, and has caused almost a thousand serious infections and a score of deaths in humans in 36 states. As of September 6, Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation in human West Nile virus infections; but with most of New Orleans still under water and a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, there are likely to be far more cases. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
However, thanks to politically correct but egregiously flawed federal regulatory policy, the tools available to local officials for mosquito control are limited — and largely ineffective.
The website of the Centers for Disease Control suggests several measures to avoid West Nile virus infection: "avoid mosquito bites," by wearing clothes that expose little skin, using insect repellent, and staying indoors during peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn); "mosquito-proof your home," by removing standing water, and installing and maintaining screens; and "help your community," by reporting dead birds.
Conspicuously absent from its list of suggestions is any mention of insecticides or widespread spraying. Anyone curious about the role of pesticides in battling mosquitoes and West Nile is directed to a maze of other Web sites.