Target: Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Goal: Continue work on slowing the rise of the West Nile virus threat in the United States.
Brandt Leondar could never have predicted how devastating a single bug bite could be on his body or life, but now the 51-year-old high school band director from Grapevine, Texas, is learning how to walk again after being bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile virus. Texas, as it turns out, is all too familiar with the virus and the debilitating neurological disease that can accompany it; forty percent of reported West Nile cases in the nation have come out of the state.
This year alone, 2,636 cases of infection and 118 deaths have been reported to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making this particular event the largest outbreak of West Nile since its initial introduction to the United States in 1999. In the time since, approximately 30,000 Americans have been infected; and according to Dr. Lyle Peterson, CDC’s director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, West Nile is here to stay. “There’s no way to get rid of it at this point,” explained Peterson. “People need to realize they’re at risk.”
Despite this, chances of infection are relatively small with only 20 percent of persons infected ever showing signs; and for those who do, about 1 out of 150 will develop the most severe type of West Nile—that which attacks the nervous system and shuts down its functions, leaving a patient with permanent neurological damage. Aerial sprayings of insecticides aside, the CDC must be encouraged to continue working on finding a way to lessen the threat of West Nile virus until a cure is found, or until the threat of infection is no longer present. Sign the petition to support further research of this debilitating virus.
Dear Dr. Frieden,
This year’s outbreak of West Nile virus in the United States is now considered to be the largest ever for this country. During the first eight months of 2012, well over 2,000 cases have been reported to the CDC, with 118 individuals dying from the disease. With no current cure or vaccine for West Nile, these numbers are expected to rise, raising concern for many who live in areas where the infected mosquitos are most present.
As concern over aerial sprayings remains heavily debated, the CDC must continue to work on learning the ins and outs of the disease so that residents can be better protected and treated if infection does occur. Already this has become a great issue, one that demands attention not only for the humans that are at risk, but also for the environment which can also be affected. I have signed this petition to encourage you and your agency to continue researching the West Nile virus. Until a cure is found, work to lessen the risks of infection must continue.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: torranceca.gov