West Nile virus

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West Nile virus,

microorganism and the infection resulting from it, which typically produces no symptoms or a flulike condition. The virus is a flavivirus and is related to a number of viruses that cause encephalitis. It usually is transmitted through the bite of several mosquito species, and can infect humans and more than 200 animal species, including alligators, horses, and many common birds. A number of North American bird species, including the blue jay, crow, and house sparrow, act as reservoirs of the virus.

About one fifth of humans infected with the virus develop West Nile fever, which in most people is characterized by fever, headache, muscle ache, joint pain, nausea and vomiting, and in some cases rash and swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands). Less than 1% of all persons infected may develop a severe case, progressing to encephalitisencephalitis
, general term used to describe a diffuse inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, usually of viral origin, often transmitted by mosquitoes, in contrast to a bacterial infection of the meninges (membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord), known as meningitis.
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 or meningitismeningitis
or cerebrospinal meningitis
, acute inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other organisms, usually introduced via the bloodstream from infections
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, about a week after the initial symptoms of West Nile fever appear. Loss of vision, tremors and convulsions, paralysis, coma, and, in some cases, death may result. Older persons and persons with a weakened immune system are most susceptible to severe cases of the disease, and they may suffer from longer-term effects including weakness and fatigue, headaches, memory loss and confusion, and depression. There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus except to alleviate the symptoms; controlling the mosquitoes that carry the disease is the most effective way to limit its spread.

West Nile virus was first identified in 1937 in the West Nile district of Uganda. It was subsequently found in much of the rest of Africa, the Middle East, and warmer regions of Asia and Europe. Its first recorded appearance in the United States was in Queens, N.Y., in 1999, and it since has spread to most of the United States and neighboring areas in North America.

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West Nile Virus is carried by mosquitoes and usually infects birds; birds harbor the virus and can spread it to animals, or the virus can also end up in humans and other animals, who do not transmit it to others but can become ill.

West Nile Virus

When summertime comes and the living is supposed to be easy, it also brings mosquitoes with West Nile virus to transform those lazy, hazy days into a season of worry about a terrible disease that has afflicted humankind.

The West Nile virus (WNV) was first identified by virologists in 1937 in the West Nile district of Uganda. If the virus originated in Africa, how did it get to the United States?

Some conspiracy theorists believe that Fidel Castro obtained West Nile virus from Communist bacteriological warfare sources, and the Cubans have been releasing hundreds of thousands of birds infected with the disease to fly into our country.

Virologists note that West Nile was reported in Egypt in the 1950s. Then, in a rather severe out-break in Israel in 1957, the virus was identified as the responsible agent in severe meningoencephalitis in elderly patients. The virus was next reported in horses in France in the 1960s. West Nile arrived in the United States in 1999 with cases of encephalitis diagnosed in horses and humans, followed by an outbreak in the New York City area. In the United States the virus is largely maintained in birds, especially crows and blackbirds. In 80 percent of people the infection causes no symptoms. In many others it causes only mild flulike symptoms. People over fifty are most liable to be at risk for the extreme reactions of encephalitis and meningitis.

In the New York area, authorities decided to spray the insecticide Malathion over certain residential areas in an effort to reduce the mosquito population. Environmentalists disapproved of the large-scale spraying, arguing that the possible deleterious effects of the chemical on people’s health far outweighed the few lives that might be saved because of it.

Conspiracists saw the hands of the CIA and the shadow government behind the virus’s evolution and heard the echoes of the New World Order’s plan to decrease the population of the planet. Some investigators are very suspicious about the fact that the alleged outbreak of West Nile on the East Coast gave the agents of deception an excuse to spray millions of mostly Jewish, black, and Hispanic residential areas.

In 1953 the army sprayed clouds of toxic zinc cadmium sulfide gas over Minneapolis on more than a dozen occasions. The reason, the citizenry was told, was to develop an aerosol screen that would protect Americans from fallout in case of a nuclear attack. Hundreds of miscarriages and stillbirths were attributed to the spray. Later it was revealed that the army was actually testing how chemicals would disperse during biological warfare. The same toxic gas was sprayed over Winnipeg, St. Louis, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Leesburg, Virginia. Also in 1953, joint army-navy-CIA experiments exposed tens of thousands of people in New York and San Francisco to airborne Serra-tia marcescens and Bacillus glogigii bacteria.

In 1955 the CIA, wishing to test its ability to infect human populations with biological agents, released a bacterium withdrawn from the army’s biological warfare arsenal over Tampa Bay, Florida.

Prior to 1999 and the arrival of West Nile virus in the United States, people worried about the nasty little flying bloodsuckers carrying yellow fever. In 1956 the U.S. military released mosquitoes infected with yellow fever over Savannah, Georgia, and Avon Park, Florida. After each test, army agents posing as public health officials would test infected victims for the range of effects.

As incredible as it may seem, in 1966, army scientists dropped light bulbs filled with the bacteria Bacillus subtilis variant niger onto the ventilation grates of the New York City subway system and exposed more than a million citizens.

The November 1970 issue of Military Review disclosed that the army had intensified its development of “ethnic weapons,” especially designed to target and to eliminate specific ethnic groups who would be susceptible due to genetic differences and variations in DNA.

In 1990 more than 1,500 six-month-old black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles were given free measles vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control later admitted that the vaccine had never been licensed for use in the United States and that parents were never informed that the vaccine being injected to their children was experimental.

Ken Alibek, a Russian biological weapons expert who defected to the United States in the 1990s, informed U.S. authorities that he thought the West Nile outbreak seemed suspiciously like bio warfare. Other experts in the field of bioterrorism said that terrorists could easily deceive a target people with an outbreak of disease that appeared due to natural causes. Conspiracy theorists agree that if terrorists made a biological plague look like a natural outbreak, the response of the authorities would be delayed and the decision-making process would be slowed.

Many conspiracists are certain that the spraying in the New York City area was a CIA-sponsored event, arranged for propaganda purposes to prepare the public to accept willingly other chemical spraying in the future. While the West Nile virus has truly caused some deaths and illnesses, conspiracy theorists warn against any chemical or biological campaigns being conducted in the name of public health and national security. If any spray is applied, citizens should do it themselves to their own bodies with a recognized brand of insect repellent.

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References in periodicals archive ?
BAD SPOTS Even without many of the details of viral spread, researchers are starting to make some guesses about the ultimate impact of West Nile disease.
A well-validated model of human West Nile disease, the golden hamster, has been developed by Robert B.
For me, the symptoms of West Nile disease came on quickly," says Weber, released from the hospital late last month.
A well-validated model of human West Nile disease, the golden hamster, developed at the University of Texas Medical Branch, was tested.
mosquito) viruses that cause significant human diseases including West Nile disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, Murray Valley encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis.
WASHINGTON, July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Current emerging infectious disease threats are bringing a heightened sense of awareness of smallpox, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), monkeypox, norovirus, HIV and West Nile disease, health officials said today at a press conference sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
The study was conducted in a well-validated model of human West Nile disease, the golden hamster, developed at the University of Texas Medical Branch and consisted of five groups of fifteen animals each: one control group and four groups immunized with Hawaii Biotech proprietary vaccine formulations.
CHICAGO -- While setting a table or planning a meal may seem easy, many patients with acute West Nile disease are not able to perform the simplest of tasks, let alone go to work.

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