By Bob Weaver

I'm at the age where I don't worry about every little thing that could happen, but ...

Last night while writin' the Herald, a rather large mosquito landed on my arm for a little blood meal. It made a small welt before I smashed it. Moments before I had been reading about how serious West Nile Virus is becoming in Arizona and other parts of the country.

I have gotten concerned when mosquitoes have bitten one of our three grandsons.

It has killed "only" two people in West Virginia, but the virus has been identified in most of the state's 55 counties. Recently three birds have been identified with the virus in Wood County, and a Harrison County horse with the disease has been put down.

Joe Starcher, a Calhoun native and vet for the state Department of Agriculture, says about 50% of all horses that acquire the disease die.

Calhoun is yet to have an identified case of West Nile in a dead bird. That may be because few dead birds have been taken to the health department for evaluation.

People who get West Nile cannot get it from birds or horses.

They get it from being bitten by a mosquito.

Arizona has become the epicenter of West Nile this year.

People are dying.

About 300 of the nation's 500 West Nile cases are in Arizona and three of this year's 14 deaths have been in Arizona, mostly in the Phoenix metro area.

While several factors have made Arizona a West Nile hot spot , it may be the large number of swimming pools and ponds in the state. Lots of lawn watering, which leaves free-standing pools for breeding. One of the best human blood-sucking mosquitoes resides in Arizona - the Culex tarsalis.

Health officials estimate at least 30,000 Arizonans may have the virus without knowing it. Some people never have symptoms. About one percent of West Nile victims develop a dangerous inflammation of the brain or spinal cord - meningitis or encephalitis. The virus can cause flu-like symptoms and potentially fatal swelling of the brain.

Residents should eliminate standing water on their property to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. Other precautions include wearing loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and using a bug spray that contains DEET.

The spread of the disease is expected to slack off as cooler fall temperatures slow mosquito activity.