Cold weather ends West Nile threat

October 10, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The weekend cold snap, with temperatures dropping to near freezing in some areas, has ended Maryland's mosquito season - and with it any concerns about outbreaks of West Nile virus until next summer, state health officials said yesterday.

Cy Lesser, chief of mosquito control with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, said the cold weather - the "first freeze" - killed most mosquitoes or forced them into hibernation.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne disease that produces flu-like symptoms in humans, and can be deadly to the elderly or those with weak immune systems. The disease primarily affects birds, horses and small animals.

Five Marylanders are known to have been stricken with the disease this year, one of whom died-although officials say the cause of death was not the West Nile virus.

Other human cases of the disease have been reported this year in New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida.

The virus has killed at least 10 people in the United States since it first appeared in New York in 1999.

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