West Nile Virus: Basic safety
The following article originally appeared in the May/June 2003 issue of Tracks, the bimonthly newsletter of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
As spring turns to summer, Northeast Ohioans once again will have to deal with the West Nile Virus. Although the problem might seem to be beyond our control, there are ways that you can help prevent the virus' spread, limit its impact on wildlife in the area and reduce the need for pesticide spraying. And you can start in your own backyard. Here's are some tips to get you started:
Birds are the natural reservoir for the virus. More than 130 species have been affected by the disease, from American Crows and Blue Jays to owls and other large raptors. The virus is spread by the Northern House Mosquito (Culex pipiens), which peaks in activity during the late summer. When a mosquito bites an infected bird, the virus is transmitted to the mosquito, which then becomes a host itself. If that same mosquito then bites a human or other animal, it can pass on the disease.
While the threat posed by the virus is serious, if in the course of the summer you or your family members are bitten by a mosquito, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that you do not panic. Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitos are infected with it. According to the CDC, if a mosquito is infected, less than 1 percent of the people it bites will become infected and get severely ill.
However, it's best to protect yourself and your family:
South Euclid and Lyndhurst ban spraying
Shaker Hts. adopts a smart WNV plan
Summary of the Shaker WNV plan
What is being sprayed?