The West Nile Virus



    A few minutes ago, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of what looked like a mosquito here in the computer room. Six weeks ago, that would have been no cause for concern, but now, it's a serious threat. It could feast on either Tommie or myself during the night. Within this short six-week span of time, the West Nile Virus has escalated from something that we read about several states away to something that has killed 21 people in Illinois alone. Considering the very small number of symptomatic cases for every occult case, there must have been 2,000 or more West Nile Virus infections in Illinois over these few weeks. Louisiana has had 11 deaths so far, corresponding to, perhaps, more than 1,000 infections. The West Nile Virus can be spread by many wild species. Eventually, we'll probably have a vaccine for it, but for now, it represents a serious threat. I haven't called to see whether the dead blue jay that Tommie found lying dead at the foot of our fence was a victim of the West Nile Virus, but several blue jays in Madison County have been diagnosed with it. It's a sleeper, and we can either take it seriously sooner or we can take it seriously later when it gets worsd, but it's a quiet epidemic.