The 1,118 cases of West Nile virus reported to the centre For Disease Prevention (CDC) so far in 2012 is the highest number of cases through the third week of August since the virus was first detected in 1999, the CDC reports. Of the 1,118 cases reported in people, including 41 deaths, approximately 75 per cent have been reported in 5 states – Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma – with almost half of all cases being in Texas.
In the Dallas County area, where the mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency on August 15 and aerial spraying of chemical pesticides began on Friday, 10 people have died and at least 230 others have been sickened.
“The number of West Nile cases in people has risen dramatically in the last few weeks and indicates that we are in one of the biggest West Nile virus outbreaks we have ever seen in this country,” said Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases, to USA Today.
Up to one in five people who become infected have milder symptoms such as fever, head and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back while one in 150 people infected serious symptoms such as high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
Since 1999 there have been more than 30,000 people in the U.S. who have reported getting sick with West Nile virus.
The CDC recommends eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs and installing or repairing window and door screens to combat the spread of the virus.
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