CBS Morning Show Links Foreclosures to West Nile Virus

     How do you make the foreclosure crisis seem even scarier? Add in a potentially deadly virus.

     CBS’s “The Early Show,” reported August 7 that a new stronger strain of the West Nile virus could spread across the country with help from the neglected pools found in foreclosed homes in California.

     “Apparently … as more and more homes are passing into foreclosure and there are many, and many of those homes have backdoor pools, these are being neglected,” Dr. Alton Baron of Roosevelt Hospital Center told co-host Maggie Rodriguez. “They’re not being maintained and this can become a ripe feeding ground and breeding ground for these mosquito populations.”

     Baron added that the new strain of the virus “invades the brain and spinal cord” and listed other horrific symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, rashes, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, fatigue or even paralysis.

     Mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, pass on West Nile to animals and humans when they feed off fowl that have the virus in their blood.

     Foreclosures in the state of California may have hit a record high, but there are signs of a change—signs “The Early Show” ignored.

     The Los Angeles Times reported July 23 that defaults, which rose by 39 percent in the first quarter, rose by only 6.6 percent in the second quarter, according to figures provided by DataQuick Information Systems. DataQuick President John Walsh said the lower increase could suggest the crisis is “nearing a plateau.”

     PMZ Real Estate Corp. told Bloomberg Aug. 5 that in Stockton, Calif., the U.S. metro area with the highest foreclosure rate, home sales more than doubled in the second quarter after prices fell by about 37 percent.

     Sales actually rose across California in April, May and June after 30 straight months of declines, according to information given to Bloomberg by the California Association of Realtors. DataQuick reported that about 40 percent of those transactions were foreclosure sales.

     Bloomberg pointed out that housing may have hit a bottom in California, meaning more people were buying those homes with neglected pools at least since April.

     “The Early Show” also didn’t tell viewers that mosquitoes carrying West Nile don’t only breed in the pools of foreclosed homes.

     The Orange County Register pointed out the rise in West Nile virus but also said that the problem could be linked to stagnant water in storm drains as well as the pools.

     Although Baron was cautious to note that for most people contracting the virus would not be fatal, other reports have more clearly stated the risks.

     "Very likely, in most cases of West Nile in people, they will feel lousy for a week or so and then forget all about it," Timothy Deschamps, superintendent of the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project said to The Boston Globe.

     “Most people who are infected by the virus do not become ill, but 1 in 5 people develop flu-like symptoms.” reported The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 6. “In its most severe form, West Nile can cause encephalitis, meningitis and death.”

     The chance of fatality grows for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, according to a report from The Orange County Register, July 5.

     The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Aug. 5 there were 114 cases of West Nile in humans this year. Of those 114, two were fatal. The CDC also said that every year in the United States, about 36,000 people die from seasonal flu.