To the Editor:
Recently there have been alarming reports of outbreaks of West Nile fever in Dallas and Chicago. The cases now number in the hundreds, with several deaths, and more cases expected.
We should not forget that this disease, as well as an even more deadly disease, eastern equine encephalitis, exists just five miles from our shores, in Southeastern Massachusetts.
These diseases are both caused by viruses which are carried by mosquitoes.
That mosquitoes know how to stow away on the ferry boats that make frequent visits to the Vineyard is evidenced by the fact that mosquitoes infected by the West Nile virus have been found here recently.
It is just a matter of time before these terrible diseases will arrive here. We should awaken to the danger. A concerted Vineyard-wide program of aerial spraying should begin now.
In addition, known mosquito breeding areas, such as the slimy iridescent greenish purple puddles along the road in Harthaven, and other similar areas, should he filled, or at least oiled, in order to control mosquito larvae.
Personal measures to avoid being bitten are still very important.
These measures should begin now. We should not wait until the plague is upon us.
John B. Thomas, M.D.