Skip to comments.West Nile Virus Heading Toward Texas
Posted on 02/05/2002 3:01:34 PM PST by blam
Date: Posted 2/5/2002
West Nile Virus Heading Toward Texas
COLLEGE STATION - Texans living near water are accustomed to annual warnings about St. Louis encephalitis. Now, they are being warned of a new virus sure to make its way into the state - West Nile encephalitis.
First detected in New York in the fall of 1999, the West Nile virus has recently spread from the east coast to Louisiana and Arkansas, putting Texas veterinarians on alert for what may be the inevitable migration of the virus into the state.
"West Nile encephalitis belongs to the same group of diseases as St. Louis encephalitis, the Flaviviridae family, and is named for the area in Uganda, Africa where it was first detected in the 1920s," said Dr. Ian Tizard, veterinarian and director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.
"This insect-borne virus spreads through the sting of infected mosquitoes and is carried by birds who act as reservoirs. While humans may become infected, the condition isn't usually too serious. Most healthy adults contracting the disease in the United States experience flu-like symptoms with no further complications. However, there have been a few fatal cases involving older patients. Among animals, the virus is most fatal to birds and horses."
Because of the susceptibility of wildlife, veterinarians who notice an unusually high number of dead birds (particularly crows) are asked to file a report with the Zoonosis Control Division of the Texas Department of Health.
In addition, surveillance programs are in place for the regular testing of dead birds, horses, captive waterfowl, and mosquitoes. The only commercial vaccine currently available is formulated for horses.
Since first detected, the virus has been largely seasonal in occurrence with most cases reported during warm weather months. The temperate Texas climate, however, is expected to sustain mosquitoes, and therefore West Nile, more continually than in northern climates.
Texas coastal areas, marshlands and other areas where mosquitoes breed in standing water and thrive are most likely to harbor infected mosquitoes.
"West Nile is essentially a bird virus," said Tizard. "A disease like this could be devastating to Texas birds, especially the exotic bird industry and the whooping crane population. Although citizens should know that it is illegal to handle wild birds (dead or alive), many people elect to dispose of them using gloves and a plastic bag to keep pets from eating them. If there are several dead birds in one area, contact either the Texas Department of Health or the Texas Animal Health Commission, and they will send someone to investigate the cause of death."
Hey, watch it! In Houston, Austin and San Antonio dead birds are registered as democrats and vote twice.
Back in '99 when it first showed up in NYC, there were several human deaths. The mayor began major aerial sprayings throughout the boroughs and issued bug spray to the citizens.
It showed up here in Florida last summer and my sister had the first horse in the county to catch it. It cost her thousands of dollars to treat the horse. The county sprayed her property twice after the incident.
I've read that same thing before. There were problems with the horses over here last year too.
I did lose more than 10 #'s during the ordeal, unfortunately, I put them all back on over the holidays.
Last August they came out with as vaccine for WNV for horses...wonder when they'll have one for people. I'm sure glad when I came moved here I brought cases of bug spray with me. I hate wearing the stuff, but it's better than death by a mosquito. I use netting around my bed in the summer and even have...but rarly use...bug protective clothing.
Now how do I get rid of those blasted fire ants? I got chickens (I'm down to four now) to eat the bugs, but even they avoid the fire ants!
I've been using Enforcer on the ants. Seems to get them to move to another location. Their bites are horrid!
I'm on a 17 acre lake in the woods. The Purple Martins fly up and down over the lake every evening. I have the Martin house on the edge of the lake. A Purple Martin house must have a minimum clearance of 15 feet around it in all directions and be a minimum height of 14 feet. LOL. I built a Purple Martin condo, it can house 48 birds.
I have lots of Eastern Blue Birds too, but, that's another story.
EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas.
Also, if your dog has fleas and/or ticks, wash them in a solution of Dawn & it kills them on contact. Be sure to rinse ol' Rover thoroughly and put some moisturizing conditioner on him afterwards because it removes all the oil on his coat & it'll make him itchy.
Another "organic" method I have found for keeping ants & tree roaches out of the house is to spray around the doors and into the weep holes of the house a concentrated citrus oil. I use Orange Glow. It's highly toxic to anything with more than four legs and it works great!
West Nile is a virus that can cause encephalitis (inflamation of the brain) or meningitis (inflamation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.) It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Following transmission by an infected mosquito, West Nile virus multiplies in the person's blood system and crosses the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. The virus interferes with normal central nervous system functioning and causes inflammation of brain tissue. It is not known from where the U.S. virus originated, but it is most closely related genetically to strains found in the Middle East.
Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. After an incubation period of 10 days to 2 weeks, infected mosquitoes can then transmit West Nile virus to humans and animals while biting to take blood. The virus is located in the mosquito's salivary glands. During blood feeding, the virus is then injected into the animal or human, where it then multiplies and may cause illness.
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus experience mild illness such as a fever, headache and body aches before fully recovering. Some persons also develop a mild rash or swollen lymph glands. In some individuals West Nile virus can cause serious disease that affects brain tissue. At its most serious, it can cause permanent neurological damage and can be fatal. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of consciousness (coma), or muscle weakness, and may be fatal. All residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis; persons older than 50 years have the highest risk of severe disease.
In 1999, 62 cases, including 7 deaths, occurred in the New York area. In 2000, 21 cases were reported, including 2 deaths in the New York City area. In 2001 at least 56 people from 10 states in the US have been identified WNV-positive, at least 8 of whom have died. Fatalities include a: 71-year-old woman from Atlanta, Georgia (Aug 17); 45-year-old man from Carteret, New Jersey (Oct 4); 70-year-old from Woburn, Massachusetts and a woman in her nineties from New Haven, Connecticut (both in mid-October); 44-year-old man in Alabama (Oct 30); 71-year-old woman from East Meadow in Nassau County, NY (Oct 26); 77-year-old man from the same community in Nassau County (Nov 22). In early Sept, a 62-year-old Maryland woman infected with WNV died from other causes.
The lepidoptera of Florida has been devastated by these sprayings - and at least one species - the Miami Blue is "almost" extinct.
One person's butterfly is another's reptile:
The gopher tortoise in currently considered a threatened species and is protected everywhere except Florida. While not yet on the Endangered Species list, the gopher tortoise's numbers are growing scarce. The greatest threat to the survival of the gopher tortoise is habitat destruction. Tortoises can not live if they do not have undeveloped land with plenty of food and room to dig their burrows. Another less obvious threat that is related to development is land fragmentation. Buildings, roads, borrow pits, landfills, parking lots, and all other kinds of facilities break the natural habitat into pieces, resulting in fewer large parcels of land. It is difficult for a tortoise to go about its business without coming into contact with humans, or worse yet, their automobiles. Road mortality is believed to be one of the greatest causes of adult tortoise deaths. Habitat destruction, habitat degradation, and human predation have reduced the original number of tortoises by an estimated 80% over the last 100 years. Maybe we should ban driving?
So, sorry, if you want to have horses - you gotta pay the price and not expect the government to come in and "kill everything" in an effort to protect your pets. It is the price of having horses.
Although I'm sure some are pets (lawn ornaments), horses are big business here. Marion County was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the "Horse Capital of the World" and as having more horses and ponies than any other county in the nation. Between 45 and 50 different breeds are represented in the area. Nearly 29,000 residents are employed in the countys Thoroughbred industry alone. More than three-quarters of Floridas 600 Thoroughbred breeding and training facilities are located in the area. The county is one of only four major Thoroughbred centers in the world, and is equal to Lexington, Kentucky; Newmarket, England; and Chantilly, France. In addition, more than 200 farms and training centers are devoted to breeding, training and showing other breeds such as the Paso Fino, Arabian, Morgan, miniature horse, quarter horse, hunter/jumper, the gentle giants, draft horses, and a newly registered breed, the Gypsy Vanner.
Fire ants I use a variety of attacks against the little devils. For individual mounds I find, I spot-treat them on the first day with a couple of tablespoons of dry grits (yes, the same stuff you see on breakfast tables in the South), then hit them with a quart or two of boiling water the next day. After being consumed by the ants, the grits expand and kill them (the ones the boiling water don't get first).
For stubborn mounds, I use one measured teaspoon of Orthene (its very toxic and I'm afraid my cats will get into it so I don't use much). No more, no less.
For long-term treatment, I use an insect growth regulator called "Logic." You spread it using a broadcast spreader over your entire property. It sterilizes the queen in each mound, causing the worker ants to die off with no replacements. I put it out about once every 3 years (its fairly expensive), and its effective until fire ants from the surrounding properties migrate into my property and start the cycle again.
You didn't ask, but ...
Fleas For flea control, the best thing I've found is plain, powdered yellow sulfur. You also broadcast-spread it, and you don't need much. I have yet to find a single flea on any of my cats for the last 4 years since I started using it.
Skunks Mothballs drive them off.
Roaches I haven't seen one in at least 10 years. The cats apparently take care of any that might be brave enough to be seen. When I lived in the city, the apartment next to mine was infested with the little beggars, and I used enough boric acid to float a battleship to get rid of them.
Crows I don't care about them except the ones that build nests in the outbuildings. For those, I hung a couple of old pie tins so the wind blows them together and makes them rattle. It works OK, but I still have to clean bird poop off the cars every once in a while.
Snakes I leave them alone (unless its a rattlesnake or copperhead) because they're death on mice and rats. Those get shot or hoed in half and thrown to the chickens.
Mice/Rats See Snakes. Chickens and cats are pretty good mouse-hunters as well. I haven't had any in the house yet, but I'll use traps if I see any, and seal up any entrances with steel wool and that foam stuff in a can.
Wasps/Yellowjackets I've got 5 or 6 mason jar traps, baited with orange soda. They fly in, can't escape, and drown in the sticky liquid.
Jehovah's Witnesses Answer the door wearing nothing but an old, torn pair of underwear and a 3-day stubble. Ask them if they've come to know Satan's power yet ;)