CORVALLIS- Oregon may have been the last continental state to report a human case of West Nile virus, yet it also is home to one of the best national resources for up-to-date information about this emerging, mosquito-borne disease.

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), headquartered at Oregon State University, has broadened its mission to provide valuable online resources dedicated to informing the public about all facets of this emerging disease, including mosquito control and human health. Informative links to state and federal disease updates, state maps of disease spread, West Nile virus biology, and pesticide prevention strategies can be found at http://npic.orst.edu/wnv/.

"In 1999, when West Nile virus broke out in the northeastern U.S, we were inundated with calls," explained Terry Miller, OSU Extension Service pesticide coordinator and the director of NPIC. "We saw the website as a way to alleviate call loads, and provide the public with more information."

Since then, Miller added, the program has maintained the site with weekly updates.

As the threat of West Nile virus continues, understanding the potential impact of mosquito control strategies becomes an issue of interest to many.

"With regards to West Nile virus, our main purpose is to answer health-related questions dealing with use of insect repellents and pesticides used in mosquito control," said Miller. "The NPIC West Nile virus web site is a one-stop source for information about insect repellents and their safe use. You can also find information about pesticides in general, active ingredients and toxicological properties of both larvicides, used to control immature mosquitoes, and adulticides, such as DEET and other repellents, which provide control after the mosquito has hatched."

With 200,000 hits last year alone, Miller said that NPIC's West Nile virus web site is a valuable resource used by the entire nation. Online operators typically answer questions about pesticide products, label instructions, potential toxic effects, environmental impacts, alternatives to pesticides and storage and disposal requirements. But, the NPIC website also provides links to other pesticide information sites including: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state pesticide regulatory agencies, poison control centers and pesticide company's web pages.

NPIC strives to provide objective, science-based pesticide information to the public to promote informed decision-making, said Miller.

To speak to a NPIC representative call the toll-free telephone line (800-858-7378), or contact them via the internet (http://npic.orst.edu) or by e-mail (npic@ace.orst.edu). Interested persons may also visit the web at http://npic.orst.edu/brochure.pdf to download the new NPIC brochure that details its service. Pesticide-related questions may be sent via U.S. mail to: NPIC, Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, OSU, Weniger 333, Corvallis, Oregon 97331.

Overall, about 24,000 phone calls and 800,000 web hits come into NPIC per year, Miller estimated.

Headquartered at Oregon State University in Corvallis, the center is run in cooperation with the U.S. EPA.