Do you remember when West Nile Virus was the major talk of news stations? Many of us sat in front of our television screens terrified of the possibility of meeting death through the tiny prick of a mosquito. Although national news coverage regarding such unfortunate circumstances has taken a fortunate dive, Riverside County has encountered two cases of West Nile Virus for this year. This is important to note so that Riverside County residents can take special precautions. However, considering many viruses are incurable, we may want to rethink the precautions offered and make more long-term, practical plans.
The two cases both occurred in the western region of Riverside County and both victims were middle-aged men (43-years old and 53-years-old). It has been documented that those who are in top notch health may not experience any symptoms of the illness which could have both positive negative consequences—the negative consequence being that people with a strong immune system could have no immediate way of acknowledging that their immune system has been compromised. The elderly, the sick, and youth are the most vulnerable populations to this illness.
Tips to combat the onslaught of West Nile Virus have appeared minuscule compared to the larger impacts of being infected. Typical suggestions are equivalent to advice given to someone who fears being bitten by a bug—wear longs shirts and pants, use insect repellent, ensure that windows are closed and that there is no open water near your home such as that from a flower pot because it can create a mosquito invitation. While these tips can be useful, they can make a person live a very restricted, paranoid life. In 90 degree weather, it can appear absurd to wear long sleeves and pants because of the possible attack of a mosquito.
The larger question that perhaps needs to be asked is why mosquitoes carrying the virus are in Riverside, California and what will it take to reduce the number of infected mosquitoes in our regions and our entire country. Other health professionals have taken these questions into deep consideration and have sprayed four acres of land in Riverside County with a solution intended to get rid of all mosquitoes carrying the virus. This is a complex feat given the fact that the carriers of this harmful illness are small mosquitoes with the ability to fly away instantly upon attempted capture.
Additionally, not only do we have to concern ourselves with the spread of this disease, but we must also consider the other species that have been affected by the virus. For example, there are more birds that carry the illness than human beings. This should raise questions about which birds are affected, if any of them are edible, and if the birds that have been provided to humans for food have been tested for the virus. Overall, Riverside County should definitely be concerned but we must take precautions that don’t hinder our livelihood yet truly protect us in the long run.