Health Department Sprays Area Where West Nile Virus Was Discovered

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) - A square-mile section of the Cleveland suburb of Garfield Heights was sprayed with insecticide Saturday night after a pool of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile virus.

The virus was detected in a pool of 50 mosquitoes in a trap earlier this month. Officials decided try to thin the mosquito population after discovering more than 300 egg-bearing female mosquitoes in two separate traps Thursday night.

Fewer than 1 percent of mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, even in an affected area, Dr. Richard Berry, chief of the Ohio Department of Health's vector-borne disease program, said earlier this week.

About one in 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito will become severely ill.

The virus generally causes mild symptoms that mimic the flu in humans, state public health officials said. In some cases, people can develop deadly encephalitis -- swelling of the brain -- or meningitis, which is inflammation of the covering of the brain and the spinal cord.

There is no known cure for the disease.

The Cuyahoga County Health Department sprayed Anvil and Biomist, insecticides used to control mosquito populations, in the area of the mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile, said Joe Lynch, the county's vector program manager.

He said the dose of the insecticides were small. In low doses, they pose only slight risks of acute toxicity to humans. But at high doses, the insecticides can affect the nervous system.

They do not pose unreasonable risks to wildlife or the environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

New Jersey is the only other state to have found West Nile virus in a mosquito pool this year, Berry said.

Mosquitoes spread the virus from infected birds to humans. Humans cannot pass the virus to one another.

No human cases of the virus have been reported this year in the United States. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people protect themselves against mosquito bites by getting rid of standing water, using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves.

The virus was first detected in New York in 1999. Last summer was the most severe so far, with 66 human infections and nine deaths reported.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)