VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington State University Vancouver’s biology club is sponsoring a Dec. 5 lecture on the West Nile Virus, a newly emerging disease threatening both human and animal populations.
WSU graduate Dr. Pamela Jen of Healing Star Veterinary Clinic will share current research on the cause, spread, symptoms and prevention of the West Nile Virus during a free, one-hour lecture from noon-1 p.m. in the Student Services Building, Room 129.

WNV is a mosquito-borne disease that killed 199 people this year in the United States and Canada. Wildlife and domestic animals, particularly horses and birds, are especially vulnerable to infection and serve as host carriers of the disease. Experts with the Center for Disease Control believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall.

The virus, common in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East, first emerged in North America in the summer of 1999.  Its symptoms are usually mild and include low-grade fever and headaches but can escalate into meningitis or encephalitis, particularly among the elderly, children and people with weak immune systems.

“During the last several months, many changes have occurred regarding the West Nile Virus,” Jen said. “The best defense against the disease is education, knowing how to decrease or prevent risk of infection.”

To learn more about the WNV, visit the national Web site for the CDC at www.cdc.gov.  For more information on the lecture, contact Steve Sylvester, biology club adviser, sylveste@vancouver.wsu.edu. WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., east of the 134th Street exit from either I-5 or I-205.