Last year, the United States recorded more than 4,000 cases of West Nile and 256 deaths from the mosquito-borne virus that causes fevers and aches and can lead to potentially fatal swelling of the brain.
"It's just an amazing story of an invasion," said Roger Nasci, a research entomologist in the Fort Collins, Colo., https://www.sjxwie38e.online
office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nasci was among the more than 600 scientists and government officials attending this week's 69th annual meeting of the American Mosquito Control
Association that began Monday.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said West Nile is here to stay and other diseases are likely to follow.
The world is more mobile, "fast and furiously" transporting exotic products, animals and bugs from continent to continent, he said Monday.
As a result, there is an increased chance of spreading more mosquito-borne diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria, encephalitis and Rift Valley fever — a virus transmitted from livestock to humans by mosquitoes that causes diarrhea, internal bleeding and can result in death.
>Osterholm said scientists should be working to predict what the next diseases might be, trying to prevent them and preparing to fight them, but he acknowledged that tough economic times have prompted states to cut government funding of research and mosquito control programs.
>Although most experts agree that pesticides are still the best way to control mosquitoes, there are alternatives, such as a soil bacteria that acts as a poison to the critters and a hormone mimic that prevents larvae from becoming adults. Other methods, such as mosquito-eating fish and dragonflies, are less-widely used.
>Those attending the conference also planned to assess the threat of using mosquitoes to spread bioterrorism agents.
>Osterholm agreed that such a scenario was a remote possibility, but also was concerned that terrorists might use mosquito-spraying trucks to spray harmful chemicals.
>"Next time there is a spray truck ... make damn sure you know whose truck that is," he said. "We have to make certain that all of us are the good guys."
>By Ashley H. Grant