Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weather Pattern Could Renew West Nile Conerns

What ever happened to the West Nile Virus? Remember that pesky mosquito-born illness that plagued the North American continent a few years back? The disease seemed almost non-existent last year with the Swine Flu outbreak stealing its thunder. But guess what? This year it could come back, and if it does, it could do so with a vengeance.

Because we are in a period of erratic weather patterns that could trigger more cases of West Nile Virus, researchers at Colorado State University are alerting the public to the potential of 'abundant cases.'

A very cold, moist winter followed by a record-setting hot spring, accompanied by high precipitation, and the expected continuing warming trend, could mean that mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus could be in higher numbers than last year when cool weather slowed the development of larvae, therefore causing female mosquitoes to diminish their efforts to bite humans and animals, specifically birds.

So far this year there have been no reported cases of the virus, but it's very early in the 'mosquito season.' So what's the big deal? Keep reading...

Only the female mosquitoes bite and transmit the virus. A mosquito lays her eggs in standing water and if the water sits for about five to six days, the larvae develop into adult mosquitoes. Some large areas of standing water can produce as many as 1 million new mosquitoes.

As complicated (or not) as the food chain, it's these pests that feed on birds, who end up carrying the virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They then pass the infection on to uninfected mosquitoes, thus helping spread the disease that in turn infect humans and other animals.

Yikes! I can't write anymore. I'm too grossed out and need go sit next to a citronella candle and cover myself with OFF spray!