Last month we reported about the record-breaking cases of West Nile virus in the United States. To make matters worse, there have been more than 400 new cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. in the last week alone, in an outbreak that remains the second worst on record, but has begun to show signs of slowing.
There have been a total of 3,545 cases reported to federal health officials as of September 25, 2012, an increase from 3,142 reported the week prior, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its weekly update of outbreak data. The death toll now stands at 147, up from 134, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, 48 states had reported West Nile infections in people, birds or mosquitoes. A total of 3,545 cases involved people. Of these cases, 1,816 (51 percent) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 1,729 cases (49 percent) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.
Just over half of the cases reported to the CDC this year, have been the severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, which can lead to meningitis and encephalitis.
The milder form of the disease causes flu-like symptoms and is rarely fatal.
The total number of West Nile cases reported so far in 2012 is the highest since 2003. 70 percent of the cases have been reported from 8 states – Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Michigan, Louisiana, Illinois and California – and about 38 percent of all the cases have been reported in Texas, according to the CDC.
What makes infections so much worse this year has a lot to do with the weather. As Dr. Dausey, chair of the public health department in Pennsylvania, told CBS News.com that this year’s higher temperatures and fluctuations of rainfall have made it a perfect environment for mosquitoes, increasing the West Nile outbreak.
West Nile virus infections usually occur in the summer through fall months, according to the CDC. Mosquitoes carry the disease after feeding on infected birds and then the insects transmit the disease to humans. In rare cases, it can also spread through blood transfusions, transplants, breastfeeding and pregnancy from the mother.
The CDC recommends these steps for protection:
- Use insect repellant when outside
- Wear long sleeves and long pants from dawn to dusk
- Don’t leave standing water around your home
- Install or repair window and door screens
- Use air conditioning when possible
There is currently no treatment for West Nile virus and no vaccine to prevent it, according to the CDC. Caution is your best bet.
Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).