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Scary Skeeter Jitters

West Nile Virus graphic with caudecus and mosquito
AP / CBS
For millions of people in New York and New Jersey, the Summer of 2000 may be remembered as long months of closed windows, bug repellent, long pants and long- sleeved shirts, pesticide spreading and spraying, and above all – fear of the deadly West Nile virus.

The encephalitis-like disease, which is spread by mosquitoes, killed 7 people and infected 62 others last year, 46 of those cases in New York City.

CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams says so far this year, 208 people have been tested for West Nile Virus. Symptoms of the virus include headache, fever, muscle stiffness, rash and disorientation.

There have been no human victims this year, but 25 birds have been found dead as a result of the virus.

Birds catch the disease by feeding on infected insects.

Concerns were heightened this week when a 71-year-old man visiting from South Carolina died Wednesday on Staten Island after being hospitalized with West Nile-like symptoms: muscle aches, stiff neck and flu-like ailments.

But Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Thursday that tests for West Nile came back negative.

Residents of Staten Island are playing it safe.

Adriana Robotti says she's told her three daughters to stay out of the swimming pool because the city had sprayed the insecticide Anvil in the area to kill mosquitoes. She was not only concerned about the pesticide, but also mosquito bites.

"I feel a little like a mosquito myself - trapped," Robotti said Thursday. "I can't lock the kids in the house the rest of the summer. It's crazy and more than a little scary."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has recommended mosquito control, including aerial spraying, of a two-mile radius surrounding infected birds and mosquitos to help avoid transmission of the virus to people.

Environmental groups and activists are suing the city in an attempt to stop the spraying, claiming the insecticide is harmful to humans, fish and wildlife.

"We find that these insecticides they are spraying are far worse than any kind of ailment in the city," Mitchell Cohen, a member of the No Spray Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides.

Lori Daidone, the co-owner of the Friends preschool and day care center, was taking all precautions against bugs and the spray. She kept the dozen preschoolers in her care inside Thursday instead of playing in the yard.

"I hate keeping them inside on such a beautiful summer day," she said, "but I'm not taking any chances."

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