ATLANTA, GA-The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is preparing for another potential outbreak of the West Nile encephalitis virus by equipping laboratories and establishing state-available grants. The West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito and has commonly been found in humans, birds and other vertebrates in Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia and the Middle East. Last year's outbreak that killed seven people in the New York area was the first known occurrence of the virus in the Western Hemisphere.
Unsure whether it was a one-time occurrence or the possible beginning of a cycle, the CDC wants to make certain seventeen states along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico can identify and control the virus. To ensure this, each of those states will have at least one laboratory capable of identifying the virus. Only three labs were properly equipped last year causing a backlog. Each state is also eligible to some of a $2.9 million grant that the CDC distributes April 1.
The CDC recommends sampling mosquitoes and birds on a state and local government level to predict another outbreak. Upon discovering infected organisms, mosquito control measures such as spraying insecticides should be put into operation. On a personal level, the CDC suggests people stay indoors during dusk and dawn. When outside, it is best to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and apply insect repellent.