The following editorial appeared in the Aug. 14 St. Cloud Times.
It's been about one month since the West Nile virus was discovered in Minnesota.
In that time, almost three dozen horses in 15 counties have tested positive for it. Yet no person has contracted the virus.
Are we lucky? Or is this due to a well-planned public-health campaign, which since early spring has urged people not to panic?
First, let's look at the national picture. Things aren't going as well in Louisiana. As of Monday, 85 people there were diagnosed with the virus and seven had died.
Nationwide, there are 145 human cases and eight deaths this year. West Nile is now in 35 states and Washington.
All of that prompted the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Julie Gerberding, to describe West Nile as an "emerging, infectious disease epidemic."
An epidemic? Really? Even media in Louisiana have pointed out tuberculosis -- another infectious disease -- hit 331 residents in 2000, and that didn't raise "epidemic" concerns.
So should Minnesotans, who all year have been told common sense, long sleeves and bug repellent should be enough to avoid West Nile, suddenly lock their doors and windows and not go outside until fall?
We say no. Keep doing what you're doing.
... Don't ignore Gerberding's point about an epidemic, but put it in the context of "less than 1 percent" and the differences between here and Louisiana.
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