Virus on the prowl

The West Nile virus claims its first victim in the US

 
Published: Tuesday 31 October 2000

The West Nile virus, that led to the indiscriminate spraying of pesticides to combat the virus, has claimed its first victim: an 82-year-old-resident of New Jersey. New York was the first to go in for extensive spraying, much against the protests of environmentalists. "The control measures are probably ineffective, unnecessary and may produce serious environmental effects," says Richard Ostfeld, associate scientist at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, New York. The lawyers have filed a case, saying that the use of pesticides is illegal and a violation of federal laws. The court is yet to take a decision.

"The use of pesticides could have serious implications for both environmental as well as and health," says Ostfeld. Tom Skinner of the Centre for Disease Control says that it is unlikely that there will be any more human cases this year since the cold weather will reduce the number of mosquitoes. The virus is now said to be spreading to new areas such as New England and Canada and Israel. Israel, however, has decided not to use blanket sprays as they are known to cause serious health effects.

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