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Dallas Museum Exhibit on West Nile

August 7, 2002

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DALLAS (AP) _ A new exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Natural History is seeking to educate the public about the spread of the West Nile virus by illustrating where the virus has been detected, how it is transmitted and what people can do to prevent infection.

Stuffed grackles, blue jays and crows from the museum’s collection show the various species of birds in which the virus has been detected. There are also several mosquito specimens on display.

``There was a lot of media attention (on the outbreak), and we thought it would be a good idea to present the facts about it,″ said chief naturalist Brian Barnette.

Museum visitor Keszmel Wesley, 9, said she’s not worried about contracting the disease, but she was curious about it.

``I didn’t know anything about it, but I kind of do now,″ Wesley said. ``It’s like, a mosquito bites the bird, the bird dies. Then it bites a person, then the person gets sick.″

Louisiana health officials announced 14 new human cases of West Nile Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 71. Five deaths have been reported there. The nation’s largest outbreak previously had been in 1999 in New York, where 62 people became ill and five died.

The West Nile virus is usually found in birds and is spread to humans through mosquito bites.

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