City braces for outbreak of West Nile

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 2, 2003

Marengo County wasn’t immune to it last year, and chances are, the West Nile Virus will find its way into this county sooner rather than later.

That doesn’t mean governments like the city of Demopolis aren’t doing everything they can to offset the mosquito carried virus.

Junior Brooker, head of the city street department, has unleashed insect spray trucks across town already.

Like most people, Brooker has heard reports like the ones issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health. The first case of West Nile was found three weeks earlier this year than the first case last year. In other words, the virus could spread much further and have more of a devastating impact than it did even last year.

The chemical sprayed by city trucks includes permanone, which is mixed with orchard oil.

Brooker’s staff is on a rigid schedule of when they spray and what time of the day they spray. He said people who suffer side effects from the bug spray should contact his office if they have questions about when and where city crews work.

Along with spray trucks, Brooker sent a couple of his employees to a seminar concerning the West Nile Virus in March, expecting the problem to persist this year.

During the conference, the city employees found a briquette about the size of a quarter that can be dropped in standing water.

Dr. Charles Woernle, assistant state health officer, said the West Nile Virus can affect people in different ways.

Woernle added that mosquitoes transfer the virus from birds to humans, although "the disease cannot be spread from person to person."

Last year, West Nile was confirmed in all 67 counties of Alabama, with 49 people and 597 birds diagnosed with the infection.

Dead crows, blue jays and raptors are the first sign of virus activity in any area, Woernle said.