There are a few deadly mosquito-borne illnesses that infect people living in regions all over the world. Diseases such as Malaria and yellow fever are particularly deadly. The West Nile virus is also a serious public health threat. But since West Nile first appeared in 1999, many American citizens have not been too concerned with the virus. Many Americans assume that West Nile is not likely to infect them. Or West Nile is only a virus that the young and elderly need to worry about. However, the impact that West Nile has had in America has been astounding. For example, in just the past fourteen years, the West Nile virus has generated costs of eight hundred thousand dollars. Since 1999, over thirty seven thousand American’s have become infected with the disease, and this is only counting the victims who became ill from the virus’ symptoms. Many people do not show symptoms, but can still carry the virus. This allows the virus to be spread more easily as a mosquito may bite an infected but asymptomatic individual before biting and spreading the virus to an unaffected individual.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the virus has costed fifty six million dollars per year. The CDC arrived at this figure by taking many factors into account, and not just the medical costs associated with the first stages of illness. The CDC calculated an economic cost of West Nile in order to determine if a vaccine would save money in the long run. An earlier study conducted by the CDC determined that developing a vaccine would not be cost effective, but the researchers running that study failed to factor in long term costs associated with West Nile virus infections. As a result of the CDC’s new analysis, government funded studies tasked with developing a vaccine for the West Nile virus may soon take place.


Do you believe that the government should have invested more money into developing a vaccine several years ago, as numerous lives could have been saved?


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