West Nile Virus: A Public Health Crisis?

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Public health officials can only hope that this summer doesn't see a repeat of last year's West Nile virus outbreak, which was the largest in recorded history. More than 4,000 people became seriously ill, leading to brain damage and paralysis for some; nearly 300 died; and the virus was even transmitted via blood transfusions and breast milk.

Some environmental groups have suggested that Americans don't need to worry about the disease or its rapid spread. According to the New York Green Party, it is not much of a concern because, “these diseases only kill the old and people whose health is already poor.”

It is true that people should not panic about West Nile and that it mostly affects the elderly, infirm, and young children. Nevertheless, does that mean we shouldn't be concerned enough to reduce risks to our parents, ill friends, and offspring?

Apparently, environmental groups don't think so. They are working to undermine one of the key tools for controlling such outbreaks – pesticides.