Virus causes death rate to continue to rise

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 6, 2002

It’s a serious problem, not only nationwide, but also statewide.

That’s the latest word from State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Bill Johnston, who said that West Nile virus has hit Alabama at higher than normal numbers this year.

The disease is spread through mosquitoes, whose population Johnston said has been higher than normal this time of year.

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On Friday, Johnston said that in Alabama, there have been three confirmed deaths reported due to the virus, two in Montgomery County and one in Mobile County. He also said that there were over 560 dead birds reported in the state, which carried the virus.

Johnston said he could not predict how long the virus would remain a threat within the state.

Johnston said that for mosquito populations to decline, land temperatures must drop below 60 degrees or less, and that water temperatures must drop below 55 degrees or less.

Johnston urged residents to still take necessary precautions to ensure they are not bitten by mosquitoes.

He said residents should make sure standing water is not left near residences, especially since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. He recommended that residents should also wear mosquito repellent, containing the chemical DEET, and that residents should wear light colored clothing, rather than dark colored clothing.

Despite some warnings saying that people should not walk outside during dawn or dusk, Johnston said that the type of mosquito found in Alabama, called the Tiger Mosquito, flies around during the day as well.

Johnston said that in Dallas County, there was one confirmed human case of West Nile, while in Marengo County there were two.

Dr. Stan Reeves, who is the head of West Alabama Clinical Care in Marengo County, said that he felt mosquito populations were about the same as last year countywide.

Dallas County Health Department Director Ashvin Parikh said that although citizens in Dallas County were concerned about West Nile, that the best way to protect one’s self against the virus was to take the &uot;normal precautions.&uot;