The outbreak of encephalitis -- inflammation and swelling of the brain -- that broke out in the New York City area in August was caused by a strain of virus never before seen in the Americas, not by the St. Louis encephalitis virus as originally thought. Both viruses are part of a group known as Japanese encephalitis viruses, because they first appeared in Japan. Since all three of these viruses are spread in the same way, measures currently underway to control biting insects should still be effective at preventing the further spread of infection. The viruses are spread by mosquito bites, and can infect birds and animals as well as humans.
Kunjin virus has never been known to cause death in humans, and the last outbreak of the West Nile virus was in Rumania in 1996, when 400 cases and 17 deaths were reported. According to the CDC, a total of 50 cases of encephalitis have been confirmed in the New York City area, the first on August 4th and the last on September 17th. In August, crows near the Bronx Zoo began to die, and birds inside the zoo soon followed. Since then, the virus has been found in tissue samples from 41 birds that died in New York City and the surrounding counties in New York and Connecticut.
Intensive spraying of mosquitoes in these areas has significantly reduced the chance of any more human cases developing, according to the CDC, but people spending time outside should still take preventive measures by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and applying insect repellent containing DEET to skin and clothing. The drop in temperature associated with autumn weather will also help eliminate the insects.
Lancet 1999;354:1221, 1261-1262
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1999;48:890-892.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
I thought that there might have been something quite unusual behind this story and as it turns out, an alert subscriber forwarded me a URL about it. Unfortunately the URL is no longer valid, but I can tell you that it described how a likely government "accident" released this virus on the city and how it required the use of an enormously potent and dangerous pesticide, malathion -- on the largest city in this country.
Malathion is a nerve gas... in the same family as nerve gasses developed during WWII. I can assure you with an enormous degree of confidence that the release of that pesticide will be responsible for incredible disease and pathology in the future. Any pregnant woman who was exposed to that pesticide can be virtually assured that her child will suffer an increase risk of leukemia and a most certain decrease in their fertility rate when they are in their reproductive years.