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2007 West Nile Virus Season Appearing Most Serious In Years

Dr. James Rahal, Leading WNV Expert, Available as Media Resource

WHO: James Rahal, MD, one of the nation’s principal experts on the West Nile virus (WNV), advises residents in the northeast region to pay close attention to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NYS Department of Health mosquito bite precautions.

WHAT: Opportunity to interview Dr. Rahal about WNV awareness and precautions, since according to federal health officials, the nation is on pace to have its worst virus season in years.

FYI: Topping the list for West Nile virus prevention is the use of insect repellents to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitoes transmit the virus to humans.

(For full list of precautions or a list of disease cases, go to http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/ or http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/west_nile_virus/prevention.htm)

Nationally, there are 185 reported cases of human WNV so far this summer, according to the CDC (as of 7/31/07). So far, there are no human cases reported in New York State. However, mosquito pools testing positive for WNV were recently identified in northern Queens (10 pools), Bronx (one pool) and Staten Island (one pool). The mosquito season lasts from July 1 through October 31. West Nile season usually peaks in late August and doesn't end until November.

Dr. James Rahal, Director of Infectious Disease at New York Hospital Queens, was one of the first physicians in the U.S. to identify the mosquito-borne disease pattern, which began infecting patients in Queens, New York, in 1999. Since then, he has been working on developing an effective treatment for patients who are affected with the disease. In August 2002, Dr. Rahal was authorized by the FDA to start a national treatment trial for patients with severe West Nile infection using a drug called alpha-interferon. The clinical trial is ongoing and physicians are encouraged to enroll infected patients in the study. So far, there is no cure for West Nile virus.

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