West Nile Virus A Manufactured Crisis

| September 30, 2002 Issue

M ore frenzy than facts have been reported about the West Nile Virus, according to Lynn Landes in Dissident Voice, and it may be time to look at what's perpetuating the panic.

"The news on West Nile is a disturbing combination of hype, confusion, distortion, and omission," says Landes, and the writer explains her own frustrated efforts to find information from state public health agencies about afflictions and fatalities. To Landes, this lack of facts suggests secrecy that may have something to do with pesticide companies and money to be gained by the public's panic about the mosquito-spread virus. "In my mind it's not surprising that states like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Illinois are claiming some of the highest rates for West Nile," she writes, "They've had a long love affair with the chemical industry. That cozy relationship could contribute to the high number of victims in any number of troubling ways."

Landes also points out that West Nile Virus may be the latest epidemic, but it's not much different from the viruses we've learned to live with. According to one doctor with the Louisiana Department of Health, West Nile is "almost indistinguishable" from the St. Louis virus, which has been in the U.S. since 1933.
--Julie Madsen
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