Friday, August 18, 2000
Medical doctors lead discussion of West Nile Virus
A joint meeting of the board of health and the selectmen was held Tuesday, August 8, to discuss the West Nile Disease. Though some towns are spraying mosquitoes, the state has not recommended that action. The disease is spread from birds to mosquitoes to people and there have been no reports of infected mosquitoes yet. Board of health agent Linda Fantasia stated that she has received seven phone calls from residents: four in favor of spraying, three against spraying and two calls about dead birds. Board chair Steve Opolski recommended leaving the birds alone as there is no means of handling them.
A more extensive discussion was held later at the board of health regular meeting with board physician Dr. Claudia Talland and endocrinologist Dr. Liz Spatola. Spatola was concerned that one of the dead birds reported with the West Nile Virus was a robin. The significance is that robins don't migrate in the winter and that bird may have contracted the disease from a tick. The other birds were crows that are known to migrate.
The chance of the disease affecting a child or the elderly is much greater. Of the people in New York who had been linked to the West Nile Virus, there were seven patients, all over 75 years old in feeble condition, who died of the affliction. Spatola said she did not know about the other people who may have gotten some of the symptoms but recovered.
Chair Steve Opolski asked, "At what point is spraying a good idea?" Talland expressed her opinion that it was when human cases were confirmed within the state. She explained that Carlisle is largely affected by what happens in adjacent towns and from a disease control perspective, that should be considered before Carlisle takes any action. She felt that the state should have a more organized approach to control. Also, the nature of Carlisle is such that it is very difficult to get to some areas where the spray would be needed in order to be effective. Talland said that what happens in neighboring towns has an effect upon our town that we cannot control.
Fantasia added that she had received a call from one resident who was so sensitive to the chemicals that she would have to leave town if the town sprayed. Talland agreed that remediation could cause more problems than the disease.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the board agreed to closely monitor testing results from the state department of public health. Also, Fantasia agreed to gather available information on mosquito control.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito