Among those hardest hit have been the city of Dallas (Texas) and Dallas County. Dallas' NBC5 reports:
“Very frequently (the birds) are some of the of the earliest indications of virus activity we see,” said Dr. Bill Risen, who runs a highly respected West Nile virus testing program at the University of California, Davis.
But in Dallas, in the months leading up to the West Nile virus epidemic, the city and county did not test dead birds. The Texas State Department of Health Services doesn't even accept them for testing anymore.
They used to send them to a lab in Wisconsin and said it was taking too much time to get results.
Risen believes cities that don’t test dead birds could be missing an opportunity to attack the virus earlier. But he said he understands it’s another program that costs money.
So testing dead birds is something you need to be sure your area is doing next summer. Jon Barden (Los Angeles Times) reports:
West Nile virus has caused symptoms in at least 1,993 Americans and killed 87 so far this year. And it’s unlikely that this virus, which humans contract from infected mosquitoes, will be getting any less dangerous in the near future.
Though the CDC believes that this year’s caseload has probably peaked, a group of public health officials writing in the new edition of Annals of Internal Medicine explains why West Nile has been so deadly this year. West Nile virus made its first appearance in the United States in 1999, when the virus, which had previously affected people in Uganda, Algeria and Romania, arrived in New York City. This year is shaping up to be the worst in a decade, particularly in Texas, which has reported nearly half of all cases. Things have gotten so bad that officials in Dallas had to blanket the city in anti-mosquito pesticide for the first time in 45 years.
And next year there is a chance it could be worse?
The CDC notes that there have been 48 states with West Nile this summer. So next year it will be all fifty?
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today: