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Michael Dolan’s piece on Asian tiger mosquitoes (“This Sucks,” 8/6) was quite thorough, with a notable exception. Dolan notes that most people don’t have to “fear a near-fatal bout with West Nile,” but he doesn’t mention who is at risk or just how rare it is.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web page on the West Nile virus (http://www.cdc. gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/), persons over 50 are most at risk for severe disease, and even then, the numbers are low. Of those infected, about one in 150 will have serious symptoms. The great majority of people (about 80 percent) who are infected with West Nile will have no symptoms.
Moreover, this year (as of Aug. 3), no human cases have been reported in Maryland, Virginia, or D.C. There seems to be little risk of dogs or cats contracting West Nile, and the CDC asserts that “there is no documented evidence of dog or cat-to-person transmission of West Nile virus.” Good news for pet owners.
Asian tiger mosquitoes are loathsome, no question, and avoiding being bitten is wise, for what we know now (and possibly for yet-unknown diseases that may come down the pike). Still, residents of the D.C. area have enough to worry about without being stirred to take on unlikely fears, such as contracting a serious or deadly case of West Nile virus.