West Nile Virus - Rochester, NY area 


Consider how one invasive disease, West Nile Virus, has affected our Environmental Health.  Incidents of WNV will increase as Climate Change affects New York State.  

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Page Contents: | West Nile Virus Newslinks | WNV & Climate Change | Discussions | Action | Recourses | Information |


Since 1999, West Nile Virus, an invasive disease from North Africa, has become a yearly concern for us in Western New York, as in other US states. 

West Nile Virus This potentially dangerous disease for people with fragile or compromised immune systems can be fatal.  However, monitoring this disease during middle and late summer and taking a few precautionary measures, we can keep this new disease, which will probably be with us for a long time and have periods of high and low concern, in check. 

This page has most of the resources you'll need to stay abreast of this disease with list of resources we can use to prevent this disease without using pesticides--which has the potential to make a bad problem much worse by further polluting our environment with toxins.


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The Link Between Climate Change and West Nile Virus

Many studies around the world are noticing the increase in West Nile Virus and Climate Change.  It's important to understand this relation ship and plan for it so we don't just react by pouring tons of pesticides into our environment.

  • Climate Change and WNV from the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: "Many zoonotic diseases5 are sensitive to climate fluctuations (Charron, 2002). The strain of West Nile virus (WNV) that emerged for the first time in North America during the record hot July 1999 requires warmer temperatures than other strains. The greatest WNV transmissions during the epidemic summers of 2002 to 2004 in the U.S. were linked to above-average temperatures (Reisen et al., 2006). Laboratory studies of virus replication in WNV’s main Culex mosquito vector show high levels of virus at warmer temperatures (Dohm and Turell, 2001; Dohm et al., 2002). Bird migratory pathways andWNV’s recent advance westward across the U.S. and Canada are key factors in WNV and must be considered in future assessments of the role of temperature in WNV dynamics. A virus closely related to WNV, Saint Louis encephalitis, tends to appear during hot, dry La Niña years, when conditions facilitate transmission by reducing the extrinsic incubation period6 (Cayan et al., 2003). " Page 625 North America Field, C.B., L.D. Mortsch,, M. Brklacich, D.L. Forbes, P. Kovacs, J.A. Patz, S.W. Running and M.J. Scott, 2007: North America. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 617-652.
  • West Nile Virus Outbreak Linked to Climate Change As NWF’s new report Ruined Summer: Carbon Pollution’s Extreme Toll on Summer highlights, there can be another serious aspect to these attacks: West Nile virus. Transmitted by mosquitoes to humans, the Center for Disease Control says West Nile virus can cause severe symptoms, including permanent neurological effects, in 1 out of every 150 persons infected. And about 20 percent of those infected have significant symptoms like fever, headache and nausea for days. The Climate Change Link The first time the virus was detected in the Western Hemisphere was a New York City outbreak in 1999. More recent climate change science indicates that this was just the start of a problem that will increasingly plague our backyards. As climate scientists stated in 2007: (August 31, 2012) EcoWatch
  • Climate Change will increase cases of WNV in New York State: "In the U.S., more than 25,000 cases of human disease caused by West Nile virus have been reported since its introduction to North America in 1999, and hundreds of thousands of birds have been killed by the infection. In New York State, the species of mosquitoes that are most likely to carry West Nile virus are those that breed in natural or artificial containers, such as ponds and discarded tires, respectively, including Culex pipiens, Culvex restuans, and Aedes albopictus. Climate change is expected to increase precipitation and summer temperatures in New York. Therefore, in general, risk of human exposure to West Nile virus is expected to increase in the state as the climate becomes warmer and wetter." (page 430, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID))


Discussions and information on how West Nile Virus has affected our area's environmental health.

Rochester area discussion on the repercussions of West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus Action

West Nile Virus is going to be with us--especially if Global Warming kicks in hard.  But, there are precautions you can take. 

The NYS Health Department recommends New Yorkers take the following precautions to eliminate mosquito breeding areas around the home:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots and similar water-holding containers.
  • Remove all discarded tires on your property. Used tires have become one the most common mosquito breeding grounds.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
  • Make sure gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in bird baths.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate stagnant water that collects on your property; clean up leaf litter and similar organic debris.
  • Make sure that all doors and windows have screens and that the screens are in good repair.


The New York State Department of Health has comprehensive informational material about West Nile virus and how New Yorkers can help to "Fight the Bite." Those materials are posted on the Department's website at http://www.nyhealth.gov .


Geese on Cayuga Lake (a Finger Lake) in late Winter. Photo by Frank J. Regan.

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Information on West Nile Virus

There are various places online to stay up with the spread of West Nile Virus in our area

  • This report is a must read if you care about the overuse of Pesticides and West Nile Virus: Spring is coming and so is the threat of West Nile Virus and especially the pesticides used by some to control the problem.  If you care about the overuse of pesticides and West Nile Virus and Mosquito Control Practices--this document is a must: Here's the message: To: Mr. Frank Regan, RochesterEnvironment.com:  We found your website interesting, especially your thorough coverage of West Nile Virus, including sources indicating the problems of toxic mosquito spraying. We have recently done an update of our report covering similar subject matter covering developments in mosquito control during the past two years. The update report entitled "West Nile Virus and Mosquito Control Practices" is available at the following website, http://skipper.physics.sunysb.edu/mosquito/   We would appreciate if you would put this link on your site, connecting to our site, as it seems that our objectives are quite similar to yours. Our report emphasizes the use of non-toxic methods of mosquito control which have often been un-reported by the media. Thanks for your consideration, and keep up the good work! Tom and Betty Hemmick 02/02/03
  • West Nile Virus West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause serious illness, and in some cases, death. West Nile virus was first found in New York State in 1999. Since 2000 there have been over 254 human cases (26 deaths) of WNV statewide. Please refer to the West Nile Virus Update for the most recent information.
  • CDC West Nile Virus Homepage "If mosquitoes are still flying there is still a danger from West Nile virus. Infected mosquitoes spread West Nile virus that can cause serious, life-altering, and even fatal disease. Keep using insect repellent, wear long sleeves and long pants and dump out standing water in the yard where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. "
  • All About Mosquitoes from Onlinetips.org DIY Home Improvement | OnlineTips.org Mosquitoes are insects that are known for their feeding on the blood of other animals. They go through four life stages that include egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, so they are particularly abundant in areas where still water is present such as shallow ends of lakes, creeks, swamps, and even backyards that have containers or areas with water.
Get the Dead Crow ReportGet the Dead Crow Repot Public Health | Monroe County, NY The Monroe County Health Department uses reports of dead crows as one tool to track the spread of West Nile Virus (WNV) in our community and to gauge the risk of this illness to humans. There are several options to report dead crows: During business hours (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri), call (585) 274-6171 - After business hours or on the weekend (to leave a message), call (585) 234-9600 - Submit the attached online form anytime. --from MyMonroe. Opening Up Government. | Monroe County, NY


Resources for West Nile Virus

Major Websites for West Nile Virus

  • CDC West Nile Virus Homepage "The warmth of Spring brings us outdoors and it’s easy to forget about mosquitoes! Infected mosquitoes are already on the wing in some states. They spread West Nile virus that can cause serious, life-altering, and even fatal disease. Time to stock up on insect repellent for the season--and use it!. Also check the yard for forgotten containers that may have collected water over the winter months and dump them out. "
  • Learn about West Nile Virus, West Nile, West Nile Fever, and other current West Nile Information at WestNileFever.com Our primary mission is to inform the public about the west nile virus. Hopefully, this west nile resource will allow all individuals to take proper steps and avoid this serious (and sometimes deadly) outbreak. If you know of any websites and/or have additional information that you think would be beneficial to this site, please email us ASAP. Thanks for visiting WestNileFever.com, and be sure to bookmark us so you can easily access west nile information in the future.
  • West Nile Virus The West Nile virus (WNV) was first detected in the Western Hemisphere in 1999 and has since rapidly spread across the North Americcan continent into all 48 continental states, seven Canadian provinces, and throughout Mexico. In addition, WNV activity has been detected in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guadeloupe and El Salvador. --from Welcome to NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node
  • USGS National Wildlife Health Center - West Nile Virus West Nile Virus has spread rapidly across North America, affecting thousands of birds, horses and humans, since it was discovered in the Western hemisphere. WNV swept from the New York City region in 1999 to almost all of the continental U.S., 7 Canadian provinces, and throughout Mexico and parts of the Caribbean by 2004. --Welcome to the USGS - U.S. Geological Survey