West Nile: Outbreak in the Lower 48
It looks like the mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus is back in the USA with a vengeance. More than 100 people have already died and by the time I hit the “publish” button on this post, even more could perish.
The good news is that most of the cases are mild and most of the people infected by the disease show no symptoms at all. Only a very small percentage of cases involve severe illness, but the threat does exist.
There are precautions you can take to help prevent infection by mosquito bite, of course. Do a quick web search and you’ll find all the tips you need. Using a reliable mosquito repellent is the obvious choice. And I’m sure someone will suggest you wear long sleeves and long pants every time you go outdoors.
Toss in a wide-brimmed hat with mosquito netting draped over it and you can pretend to be some kind of jungle explorer. It might help distract you from the ridicule you’ll receive if anyone actually sees you wearing this stuff. Maybe just stick to the repellent.
While I am worried about West Nile spreading, mostly because I don’t want my child to be infected, I am equally concerned by some of the reasons this might be happening. Check out this excerpt from the article:
“The record year for West Nile may be a result of warmer-than-usual weather as well as environmental factors, like the bird populations and rainfall patterns.”
We harm the environment with greenhouse gases and other pollutants and the ice caps start to melt. Global temperatures rise and the instability in the atmosphere results in unseasonably warm weather, increasingly bad storms, erratic rainfall and even extreme and unmerciful droughts. And as the mercury rises, so does the prevalence of sickness and disease. This includes mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile.
In case you’re wondering what “bird populations” have to do with West Nile, all I can tell you is that a lot of birds die from the disease. Crows and blue jays seem to suffer the most. but the virus has been found in more than 200 species of birds.
All of these infected birds were found dead, of course.
We all know birds are an important part of the ecosystem, so sharp drops in their populations could have significant environmental effects. Not as many bugs are eaten, so the surviving bugs destroy crops, and the lack of crops force people to eat… bugs.
That’s a pretty messed up “circle of life,” people. And just for the record, I’ll starve or feast on tree bark before I eat any bugs. Believe me.
What I’m getting at is this: we are responsible for the climate change that eventually allows diseases like West Nile to flourish. And while we should all protect ourselves from this potentially fatal virus by taking the necessary precautions, there is something else we should keep in mind.
Protecting our planet is important, too. And there is no time to waste.
Posted on September 13, 2012, in Perspectives and tagged Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, climate, current-events, disease, environment, health, humor, Mosquito, musings, nature, news, perspectives, prevention, science, West Nile, West Nile virus. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.