"There were two epidemics in New York City in the dry,
hot summer of 1999. Birds and people were getting sick. Some were
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
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
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
It describes the science and drama of identifying West Nile Virus,
the foreign agent, and the link among dying humans, horses, and
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
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
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
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...