West Nile Virus Invades
Chicago This Year
1999, 2000 and 2001 were the warmest years on record for the Earth.
The lowest temperature recorded in Chicago during that period was
barely below zero, as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
generated by the burning of fossil fuels and forests continued to
Almost weekly we have been hearing of additonal evidence of global
warming; just this week another huge chunk of Antarctica ice (this
one the size of Rhode Island) collapsed into the sea and melted.
And large surfaces of the Earth, formerly covered with white snow
or ice which reflected the sun's warmth back into space, are now
dark. And the sun's warmth is redoubled and multiplied; and the
Earth continues to heat....
As a result of this warming, several deadly diseases have invaded
the northern latitudes for the first time, including the West Nile
virus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The
West Nile virus, which can be transmitted by mosquitoes, is a form
of encephalitis, a brain infection. One form of encephalitis is
sometimes called "sleeping sickness" because infected
patients exhibit extreme lethargy, double vision and apathy.
Although no one in Chicago has yet been infected with the West
Nile virus (as of March 2002), diseased birds, other animals and
mosquitoes have been recently found in the state for the first time.
Apparently only one percent of infected people develop serious symtoms
of West Nile. However, the disease can be serious for the very young,
the e elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Orienteers have been dealing with another virus called Lyme disease,
which is carried by small ticks, for a decade. The symtoms of Lyme
disease are a red rash that persists for several days. Although
there are few reliable tests if you suspect you are infected with
these viruses, immediate medical care should be sought. And during
the exam, the physician should be told of your recent exposure to
This news only increases the reasons to use insect repellant and
complete clothing whenever you are outside. And to maintain a watchful
eye for any indications of infection. Thanks to modern medicine,
none of these diseases are a problem if detected and treated in