Fulton uses education to combat West Nile virus

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Bluejays and crows seem to be more susceptible to carrying the West Niles virus than other birds, said James Tanner, regional environmental health specialist, at the Fulton Hometown Health meeting Sept. 5.

Tanner explained if a suspected infected bird is found it is necessary to keep the bird cold so it can be tested for the virus.

Tanner said there have been no positive cases of the virus in humans or animals in Fulton or Sharp county.

Local health units are trying to focus on educating the public to control the mosquitoes in their area by keeping gutters and bird baths cleaned, to keep lawns mowed and maintained and not to have water left in tires and other containers.

Tanner predicts the problem with the virus will be even worse in 2003. He said, "I hope we don't have any positive results but I think it will be a matter of time."

Mosquitoes are active mostly during twilight hours and at night. But mosquitoes that breed in discarded containers can be active during the day as well as during twilight hours and at night.

Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle. They can breed in almost any source of water.

It's important for Arkansas to have a cold winter to get rid of and help combat the problems caused by mosquitoes, Tanner said.

In other business, Cecilia Vinson, the new community health nurse for the region, said she has been working with the tobacco coalition. She said Arkansas ranks 46th for tobacco use; and it is prevalent in school youth.

A continuing problem is parents smoking on school grounds. A second issue is second hand smoke. Vinson questions who will be the tobacco police for local schools.

Chairman Dr. Guy Smith said information from a survey conducted in area schools has resulted in a need for the group to concentrate on issues relating to tobacco use, nutrition, alcohol and substance abuse.

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