<b>West Nile in Humans
Reported in Arlington</b>
Late last week, Arlington public health officials announced that there are three likely human cases of West Nile virus reported in the county.
Two cases have been reported as probable, meaning that blood tests at private and state labs have indicated the presence of the West Nile virus in the victims. They involve an 83-year-old woman, who has been hospitalized in serious but stable condition since Sept. 4, and a 53 year-old man who came to a local hospital with symptoms of the virus, but who returned home after treatment.
In addition, the county has another report of a suspected case of infection, meaning that blood tests at a private lab indicated the presence of the virus in the victim’s blood. That case involves a 67-year-old man, currently under the care of his doctor. The three cases bring the total reported human cases in Virginia to 11.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus can include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and, in some cases, a skin rash. Infection can spread to the nervous system or the bloodstream and cause encephalitis or meningitis in the elderly, young children, or people with weakened immune systems, with HIV, or on chemotherapy. Older children and adults may show few or no symptoms of infection.
No case of West Nile is confirmed until testing and analysis are completed by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta – a process that may take another two weeks. After two rounds of testing, however, CDC tests usually serve as final confirmation, officials say.
Recent media attention to West Nile has focused on the possibility that the virus can be transmitted through blood transfusions and organ donations. But Arlington officials said they believed all three local cases were transmitted by mosquito bite, and are going to respond accordingly.
Human infections were almost inevitable, said Susan Allan, Arlington’s public health director, given the number of infected birds and mosquitoes officials have found in the county. So far this year, 51 dead birds and 13 mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile, compared to a total of 37 birds and no mosquito pools last year.
The three neighborhoods involved are Bluemont, Yorktown and Donaldson Run. The county last larvicided in the Bluemont area on Sept. 5 and in the Yorktown neighborhood on Sept. 11. Donaldson Run was larvicided on July 30.
Loudoun health officials began spraying some areas in that county when three cases of malaria surfaced there. But Arlington will not begin spraying for mosquitoes. Instead, the county will continue larviciding known mosquito pools and standing water sites around the.
"We’ve had a lot of conversations with the state health department and regional governments," said Richard Cole, supervisor of the county’s Environmental Health Bureau. "Their feeling is, larviciding is the way to go."
Spraying would not be as effective in Arlington, Cole said, because the three cases were spread across a broad area in North Arlington. "The Loudoun situation was a little different," he said. "They thought that they may have a localized area they could spray. If there was any chance that there were malaria-carrying mosquitoes, they could knock them down that way. We know we have West Nile-carrying mosquitoes, but it’s not as localized."
<b>County Board Endorses
Sales Tax Referendum</b>
Arlington County Board members voted 5-0 to approve a resolution this Saturday throwing their support behind the sales tax referendum.
Pointing to improvements that would be funded on Route 50, Columbia Pike and funding for Metro and possible new transit options, board members approved the referendum set for the November election.
If approved, the referendum would impose an additional half-cent sales tax on purchases in Northern Virginia, raising $5 billion that would fund road and highway improvements around the region.
Voters in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and in the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas and Manassas Park will decide the fate of the referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The vote by the all-Democrat board followed the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s endorsement of the initiative last month.
New Web Site</b>
Arlington police launched a redesigned <a href="http://www.co.arlington.va.us/police">Web site</a> this week, including downloadable publications, news releases and expanded information about upcoming events.
The new Web site was designed by Jennifer Lieberman, the department's first full-time Webmaster. Lieberman was hired in July, and given the task of completely redesigning and updating the Police Department’s Web site to make it more user-friendly and informative.
She added Police department publications in PDF format, including applications, brochures and online forms to report officer misconduct or to recommend officers for commendation.
In addition, the redesigned site adds contact information for department officers and commanders; an online Hall of Honor, for local officers killed in the line of duty; an expanded section for frequently asked questions; information on unsolved cases; a way to buy the department’s Sept. 11 pins and t-shirts; and links to other crime prevention Web sites.
There is also an online satisfaction survey to gauge how well the site meets the needs of county residents.
The story "9-11 One Year Later" (Sept. 11-17) should have said that the idea for the Arlington Police/Fire 9-11 Memorial 5K race originated with Arlington Police Capt. Matt Smith, who planned and organized the race for the police department.