City to reduce spraying for West Nile virus


Baltimore will be more judicious this year in spraying for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus. Dr. Peter Beilenson, the city health commissioner, said yesterday.

Last year, there was probably more spraying than was necessary, he said. "We're going to be much more conservative this year," said Beilenson, adding that he would assess the situation case-by-case. Last year, authorities sprayed when dead birds were found to be infected with the disease.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on an infected bird. There is a very small chance of human infection, but a person who is infected is likely to suffer flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms in more severe cases can include high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation and coma. Rarely, death can result.

Beilenson noted that residents who know of marshy areas where mosquitoes might breed should notify health officials. He also recommended reducing the chances of getting bitten by applying insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and eliminating standing water in tires, flowerpots and wading pools.

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