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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 22, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta .Tuesday, Augusl 22, 1972 THE LETII3HIDGE 7 Western encephalitis unpredictable in hov ses Like any other infection of the InNiin, western encephalitis inspires fear In many people. The fjrc-at mystery of the dis- ease is how the virus manages to survive harsh prairie win- ters and how to predict un im- pending epidemic. Both problems are being tackled by Canada department of agriculture scientists in co- operation with t h e micro- biology department of the Wratern College of Veterinary Medicine. Since 1902, thousands of blood samples from wild and domes- tic animals and from more than Saskatchewan mos- quitoes have been c xa mined for virus. "There's an astonishing range of hosts of the sold Dr. J. J. R. McLintock o( the Saskatoon Research Sta- tion. N ine species of mos quitoes, at least 10 species o( birds, as well as muskrals, skunks, ground squirrels, mice, pigs, cattle, buffalo, frotfs and garter snakes can all host tho virus." However, Hie principal hosts are nestling birds sparrows in particular for it is in those that the virus creases during the .summer. The virus goes into a sum- mer cycle of infection in young birds which arc bitten by a mosquito carrier. The mosquito in return carries Iho virus, to other young birds. The cycle is bird to mosquito to bird. Spill-over of the virus Into men and horses is caused by a complicated c o m b i n a tion of factors. "For one thing, if there are not enough birds to satisfy the demands of all the mosquitoes, they will feed on men and said Dr. McLintock. That doesn't mean, however, that a large mosquito popula- tion indicates an epidemic on the way. must remember that only one species of mosquito, the C u I c x tarsolis, spreads western he cau- tioned. "This species Ls always in the top 10 most abundant, but just because there are a lot of mos- quitose one year doesn't mean there nre a lot of Culnx larsalis around. In fact, this species Isn't usually a pest." I Jut tho discovery of which species transmits tho virus has made it possible for scientists to sny when Uicre will not Ixi nn outbreak. If the mosquito doesn't reach n certain popula- tion level by the end of June, It's c-crt.iin there won't he enough of them 1 tiler in tho .summer to support an epidem- ic. On the other hand, the fact that it docs reach that certain level doesn't, in itself, guaran- tee an epidemic because of oth- ers factors involved. Tin- western encephalitis vi- rus apparently took a nose tlivo about During that year, thousands of blood samples xvero checked from rodents and birds and thousands of mos- quitoes were tested without finding tho virus. Tho only indication that it WJLS still in the province was three confirmed cases of the Infection in horses. Sinco that year, the vims appears to be slowly increas- ing in activity. "What concerns us at present U that since 1068 wo have a new generation of children who Imvc not been exposed to the vi- rus and so have had no chanco lo acquire resistance to said Dr. McLintock. "There's also a population of about CO.OOO horses In the prov- ince. Their value is increasing because they're better bred and they're popular pets. When tlierc's no epidemic for several years, it's hard lo convince owners to have their animals vaccinated." A vaccine for horses was de- veloped in Saskatoon by tins late Dr. J. S. Fulton. 'Trospects for a hum an vac- cine appear said Dr. McLinlock. "One of our goals is lo learn more about the breeding habits of Culex tarsalis so that we can control it, and another is to bo able lo predict threaten- ing epidemics. "When we started this re- search, very little was known about the hosts or transmitters of the virus in Saskatchewan. Now we know Ihc host range, the principal mosquito trans- mitter and the geographic dis- tribution of the virus which in- cludes all of the agricultural area of the province. Farm income up Total farm net Income rose almost 25 per cent in 1971, Statistics Canada reported May S. After deduction of operating costs and allowance for changes in inventory, farmers had incomes totalling bil- lion, compared with the previ- ew year's billion. Saskatchewan farm net In- come rose to million from million. Other increases: Manitoba, up to million from million; Alberta, lo mil- lion from million; and British Columbia, to mil- lion from million. Realized farm net income docs not Include changes in in- ventory but is limited to what the fanner actually receives. Total farm net realized In- come last year was bil- lion, up from tha previous year's billion' "It would not be pnclical to vaccinate evuryone in such a large area on short notice, but it we could forecast outbreaks in localized areas, people such as poultry raisers, who are es- pecially exposed, or children who are more liable to acuto infection, could be immunized when Hie vaccine is he said. Dr. McLintock stressed that there is little danger of west- ern encephalitis spreading from an infected horse to humans. In the meantime, the best protec- tion is mosquito repellents. In- fanta, who are too young for repellents, should be screened from mosquitoes when tliey aro outdoors. This is the place to L, .._ 0 For Year End Clearance Specials 1972 8 FOOT CAMPER YEAR END SPECIAL 1690 FURNISH YOURSELF SPECIAL 1972 VAN CONVERSION MOTOR HOME 350 C.I.D. G.M. engine, power ina power brakes, 125" wheel base. 16 (t. overall length, 6'1" interior might. COMPLETE YOURSELF SPECIAL 5290 1972 NEW "AQUARIUS- VAN CONVERSION MOTOR HOME 350 C.I.O. G.M. engine, power sleer- Ing, power brakes, 125" wheel base, lo fT. overall length, 6'1" interior. completely finished. YEAR END SPECIAL '6875 1972 16 FOOT TRAVEL TRAILER Include! electric brakes, awning, ica box and slave, YEAR END SPECIAL BANK FINANCING Courts Highway-Lethbridge PHONE 327-3165 ;