Fulton gets first case of West Nile virus

Mon, 09/10/2007 - 8:20am
By: Ben Nelms

Fulton County’s first case of West Nile virus (WNV) was confirmed in a 56 year-old Atlanta man who was treated and released from an area hospital. The infection marks the twelfth in Georgia during 2007, with Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness urging residents to take precautions when outside and to clean areas of standing water.

“We are in the season for increased mosquito activity,” says Dr. Steven Katkowsky, Director of the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness. “The weather has contributed to growth in the mosquito population which unfortunately adds to our increased risk to mosquito bites.”

Symptoms of WNV include headache, fever, neck discomfort, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. WNV can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and lining of the brain). People with compromised immune systems or other underlying conditions are at greater risk for complications from the disease.

“During this time of year, transmission of this potentially serious illness from mosquitoes to humans is at its peak. West Nile Virus is serious but preventable if we take action to reduce our exposure to mosquito bites,” Katkowsky said.

Katkowsky recommended that residents reduce their chances for exposure by eliminating sources of standing water needed for mosquitoes to breed, noting that breeding can occur in any puddle or area of standing water that is present for more than four days. Breeding can occur in sources such as old tires, flower pots, bottles, jars, clogged gutters, wading pools, outdoor toys, or leaky pipes and faucets.

Health and Wellness also recommended using Mosquito Dunks, a larvicide used to kill mosquito larvae, to control mosquitoes in areas with standing water and in containers that cannot be dumped.

Mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus bite during the evening, night and early morning. Residents should take precautions to protect family members during these periods. Katkowsky recommended wearing long-sleeve shirts, long pants and socks when outdoor, especially at dawn and dusk. Residents may purchase an insect repellent containing the active ingredient N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), spraying the outer surface of clothing and exposed skin and being sure to follow the instructions on the label

There have been more than 900 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in humans in 32 states so far in 2007, with 12 of those in Georgia, according to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the cases nationwide, 26 resulted in death. Most of the human cases have occurred in the western United States. Other cases in Georgia included two in DeKalb County, one in Gwinnett County, one in Cherokee County, one in Cobb County,one in Johnson County, three in Muscogee County, one in Columbia County and one case in Tift County, according to U.S. Geologic Survey. All cases occurred since the first week of July.

West Nile virus did not pose a serious threat to humans until the mid-1990s, when deadly outbreaks sprang up in Romania, Russia, Israel and, eventually, the United States. Researchers at University of California (Davis) are studying the possibility that new strains of WNV contain a mutation in a gene involved in viral replication, thus enhancing the efficiency of infection, according to New Scientist.

For more information on West Nile Virus and prevention methods, call the Mosquito Hotline: 404-730-5296 or contact the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Environmental Health at (404) 730-1301.

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Submitted by DrMoskowitz on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:02pm.

My company developed (and owns a pending patent for) a safe and apparently quite effective treatment for WNV encephalitis, and has been using it in an ongoing free clinical trial for the past 5 summers.

We're very anxious to get more experience with our treatment to see if it really works. To that end, patients need to know about it, which is why I'm leaving this comment.

Our initial results on 8 patients seen in Sept, 2003 were published in a peer-reviewed medical journal in July, 2004 (1), the standard way for new treatments to come into existence. Only continued experience with the treatment can prove how good it is. Plus, with each patient, we get a better idea which drug works best--there are over a dozen to choose from.

So far, 21 patients with WNV have responded better than expected, out of 25 (84%). Three out of 5 horses have survived (60%), and 6 of 12 birds (50%). At this point, we don't understand why people do better than animals with our treatment.

Our approach lowers the host's response to the virus--the so-called "cytokine storm"--rather than targeting the virus itself. So it may work for most viruses as a kind of general viral antidote. This would be an extremely useful tool in the fight against viral diseases, and argues for immediate testing.

The White House Office of Science Technology and Policy (OSTP) asked me to brief them on our possible general viral antidote in June, 2004. I briefed the Dept. of Homeland Security later that summer. The UN is aware of our treatment in the context of avian influenza. And it was included in the Project BioShield II Act of 2005, co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman, Hatch, and Brownback (2).

The FDA is happy for our trial to proceed, since we use already FDA-approved medications which are known to be safe for the general population, and WNV has no established treatment.

I was recently asked to describe our treatment at the Biodefense Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Industry Day hosted by the Dept. of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC (3).

Unfortunately, no agency has given us any funding, so we're doing the best we can with limited resources.

An expensive randomized, controlled trial would certainly be nice, but in the absence of any funding, a free consecutive case series will have to do.

Our WNV trial is free from our end. The blood pressure meds we use are safe and inexpensive (around $1/day), and are available by prescription from practically any drugstore.

Anybody who wants to download our trial documents can do so for free at any time of day or night from our homepage at www.genomed.com.

Beginning treatment early--within the first 48 hrs of encephalitis symptoms--seems to be the best way to avoid death or long-term complications such as paralysis, chronic fatigue, “brain fog,” etc. WNV is notorious for still affecting half of WNV victims 18 months later. Even when started late, our treatment has sometimes been helpful.

1. Moskowitz DW, Johnson FE. The central role of angiotensin I-converting enzyme in vertebrate pathophysiology. Curr Top Med Chem. 2004;4(13):1433-54. PMID: 15379656 (For PDF file, click on paper #6 at: http://www.genomed.com/index.cfm?action=investor&drill=publications)

2. Section 2151 of the Project BioShield II Act of April 28, 2005 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s109-975)

3. http://www.hhs.gov/disasters/press/newsroom/spotlight/2007bardaday.html


Dave Moskowitz MD
Chairman, CEO & Chief Medical Officer
GenoMed, Inc.
"Our business is public health(TM)"
website: www.genomed.com

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