West Nile virus found in squirrel

(San Mateo Daily Journal) Local mosquito experts confirmed a squirrel collected earlier this month in the city of San Mateo was positive for the West Nile virus which in itself isn’t dangerous for humans but implies the presence of infected mosquitoes.That implication is leading health officials to urge people to take precautions against the potentially fatal virus, such as wearing mosquito repellent and removing standing water from property. “[T]he presence of infected squirrels means that there likely are infected mosquitoes nearby, which increases the chances that human cases may appear in San Mateo County. We urge residents to take steps now to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” Dr. Alvaro Garza, San Mateo County deputy health officer, wrote in an announcement of the squirrel discovery.

Mystech: You know you’re dealing with a ruthless foe when they’ll infect their own kind (or selves) just to serve as weapons against humans.  If a squirrel ever sneezes in your presence, never say “Bless You”, because its probably intentional. 

On July 9, the San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District collected an eastern grey squirrel in San Mateo, said health spokeswoman Beverly Thames.

The animal was sent to the University of California at Davis Center for Vectorborne Diseases which confirmed the presence of West Nile.

West Nile is typically spread by mosquito bites to other animals. After birds, especially crows, the virus tends to infect squirrels, Garza said.

The squirrel is the first sign of West Nile virus in San Mateo County during 2007. The county, which has detected the virus since 2004, is one of 32 counties statewide with confirmed presence. So far, human cases have appeared in court counties and Kern County reported one death.

Last year, there were a total of 278 cases in California and seven deaths from the disease but no human cases in San Mateo County, Thames said.

As of last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated West Nile infected 1.2 million to 1.3 million people in the United States in the seven years since its presence was first identified in the nation.

However, only approximately one in five people develop symptoms and even fewer develop the life-threatening disease that has claimed 800 people and left more than 8,000 with neurological illness, meningitis or encephalitis.

To reduce the risk, the mosquito abatement district suggests draining standing water weekly, taking precautions during dusk and dawn, using insect repellents with the ingredient DEET, dressing in long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are active and replacing damaged or missing screens on windows and doors.

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3 Responses

  1. People might enjoy knowing that a safe and apparently effective treatment for WNV encephalitis was published three years ago.

    My company developed (and owns a patent which is still pending) on the treatment, and has been using it in an ongoing free clinical trial for the past 5 summers, since 2003.

    Our initial results on 8 patients seen in Sept, 2003 were published in a peer-reviewed medical journal in July, 2004 (1). Publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal is all that’s required for a treatment to officially exist, even if the public health authorities omit to mention it.

    21 patients with WNV have responded so far, out of 25 (84%). We’ve also treated 4 horses (3 responded) and 12 birds (6 responded; birds present sicker than humans and horses). Our WNV trial is free from our end. The blood pressure meds we use are inexpensive (around $1/day) and are available by prescription from any drugstore in the country.

    Anybody who wants to download our trial documents can do so at any time of day or night from our homepage at http://www.genomed.com.

    Beginning treatment early–within the first 48 hrs of encephalitis symptoms–seems to be the only way to avoid long-term sequelae such as paralysis, chronic fatigue, cognitive problems, etc. WNV is notorious for still affecting half of WNV victims 18 months later.

    If a family knows about our treatment ahead of time, they’ll be in a much better position to get it prescribed for their relative who comes down with the disease.

    1. Moskowitz DW, Johnson FE. The central role of angiotensin I-converting enzyme in vertebrate pathophysiology. Curr Top Med Chem. 2004;4(13):1433-54. PMID: 15379656 (For PDF file, click on paper #6 at: http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications)


    Dave Moskowitz MD
    Chairman, CEO & Chief Medical Officer
    GenoMed, Inc.
    “Our business is public health(TM)”

    website: http://www.genomed.com
    Ticker symbol: GMED.PK (on the OTC Pink Sheets)

    email: dwmoskowitz@genomed.com

    PS. We haven’t tried this yet on squirrels, but they seem to be carriers rather than “dead-end” hosts like birds, horses, and humans.

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