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From April 10, 2001

CDC Revises WNV Battle Plan

Federal health officials, according to a Syracuse Herald Journal article, will be emphasizing protection and education over pesticide spraying in their revised national West Nile virus battle plan, due to be released this week. Dr. Lyle Petersen, deputy director for science at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases in Fort Collins, Colorado, acknowledged that last summer's spraying strategy quickly became obsolete, and said, "The primary aim is to prevent the problem before it becomes a problem."

The new guidelines call for eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, spreading larvicide to kill mosquitoes before they emerge as adults, and educating people about how to avoid mosquitoes. Also, the two-mile radius recommendation has been eliminated, with health officials finally realizing that attempting to contain and eradicate the virus is futile.

"Late in the season, it became obvious that one dead bird does not necessarily mean there was a human risk," said Petersen.

Health officials say that people over the age of 55, or those with suppressed immune systems are most susceptible to the virus - the same population that is most likely to be adversely affected by the pesticides sprayed. In most cases, healthy people bitten by an infected mosquito will have mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.