Editorial: Planning paid off with the West Nile Virus

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

A little planning goes a long way.

The West Nile Virus was discovered in two dead crows in Minnesota this week. The virus was discovered out East in 1999 and has since been spreading west.

But instead of being caught off guard like communities in the East, Minnesota health officials had already set a plan in place in case the virus reached our state.

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The plan focuses on educating the public about the virus and tracking the virus in animals.

When the virus came to New York, the city had almost stopped its mosquito-control program. Officials scrambled to spray the city for mosquitos when the virus was found, but 45 people were still infected by it.

A little luck helps also. A vaccine against the virus for horses was approved this year. Many horse owners decided to protect their horses, even though the virus had not come to Minnesota yet.

The planning by Minnesota health officials has prevented a quick spread of the

disease. The public also is not panicking about the spread of the disease because the state was quick to share factual information about the virus.

Because health and mosquito officials decided to track the virus once it came to the United States and to learn from some of the mistakes that were made in other states, managing the virus is possible.