Science Picks-Leads, Feeds and Story Seeds (June 2003)


Mapping the Trail of a Killer - USGS is again mapping the trail of the West Nile Virus in 2003 online and in near real-time. The USGS website, http://westnilemaps.usgs.gov, shows where the disease has been identified in humans, birds, mosquitoes and horses. In 1999 and 2000, outbreaks of West Nile Virus were reported in the New York City metropolitan area, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In these two years, 83 human cases of West Nile illness were reported; 9 died. In 2001, human infection with the virus occurred in 10 states with 66 cases and 9 deaths. In 2002, virus activity spread to 44 states, with 4,156 human cases and 284 deaths. West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds that have high levels of the virus in their blood. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit the virus when they feed on humans or other animals. Butch Kinerney, bkinerney@usgs.gov, 703-648-4732.

Mapping the Watery Topography of the Everglades - So flat, so broad, so indeterminate is the boundary between land and water in the Florida Everglades that it is famously known as a River of Grass. Yet even here, across more than 10,000 square miles of soggy, inaccessible, pancakeflat terrain, water still, though almost imperceptibly, flows downhill. The USGS has meticulously mapped the above ground and underwater topography of the Everglades to support the hydrologic and ecological modeling studies needed for ecosystem restoration planning. Because the Everglades is so expansive and remote and includes environmentally sensitive areas, impenetrable vegetation, and other areas unapproachable by airboat, access to many places is possible only by helicopter. The USGS has developed a helicopter-based instrument, known as the Airborne Height Finder (AHF) which is able to measure the terrain surface elevation, whether above or under the water, in a noninvasive, nond

Contact: Office of Communications
United States Geological Survey

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