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West Nile Story
by Dickson Despommier

"There were two epidemics in New York City in the dry, hot summer of 1999. Birds and people were getting sick. Some were dying.
It took nearly two months to realize that they were different manifestations of the same disease, and that it was caused by an infection never before encountered in the Western Hemisphere - the West Nile virus.
What does it mean when a new infectious disease comes to town?
What were the circumstances that made Staten Island the virus's epicenter of human infections in 2000?
What will be the long term effects of west nile virus on the wildlife?"

West Nile Virus has reappeared again, in the hot summer of 2002, this time with many more victims, on the entire east side of the United States.

This book has four main characters: humans, birds, mosquitoes, and viruses. It describes the arrival of West Nile Virus inQueens, in 1999 and its spread. Now it occupies all the territory east of the Mississippi.

It describes the science and drama of identifying West Nile Virus, the foreign agent, and the link among dying humans, horses, and birds.

It presents the biology and ecology of infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria and of vectors such as mosquitoes, about epidemics and the evolution of immunity, and why our native birds will be vulnerable to WNV for some time but pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows will not.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and can infect people, horses, many types of birds, and some other animals.

Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or only mild ones.

On rare occasions, West Nile virus infection can result in a severe and
sometimes fatal illness known as West Nile encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain). The risk of severe disease is higher for persons 50 years of age and older.

There is no evidence to suggest that West Nile virus can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.

The most important point of the book is that West Nile Virus epidemics occur when conditions favor transmission and those conditions are essentially a: wet spring followed by an unusually hot, dry summer.

The author finally proposes his hypothesis on the origin of the epidemics: the virus matches a strain of virus that usually lives in Israel, and that could have arrived in the summer 1999 hosted by a human.

Now it lives in all the east US, and it is probably a matter of time before it will be seen on the west coast...


West Nile Story
by Dickson Despommier Ph.D.,


Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe
by Andrew Spielman Sc.D., Michael D'Antonio






Va Pensiero - Copyright 2004- In association with


Malaria, West Nile,
and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases
by Nancy Day

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History of Technology

Is this Monument Telling the Truth ?

This monument in downtown Boston is at odds with a recent Congress resolution, granting to Antonio Meucci - not Alexander Bell - moral rights for the invention of the telephone .... more



Improbable Research

The 2005 IG Nobel Prizes were awarded in a ceremony at Harvard University.




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