CDC: West Nile virus cases jump 40 percent

More than 1,500 people have fallen ill after being infected with West Nile virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mosquito-borne virus has killed 66 people. Officials have said this is the worst year for West Nile infections since the virus was detected in the U.S.  in 1999, according to USA Today.

About 70 percent of the infections come from only six states — Michigan, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Earlier this month, the mayor of Dallas, Texas declared a state of emergency and implemented an aerial mosquito-spraying program. Officials in Michigan said the state also has recently reached epidemic levels of West Nile.

Most people (about 80 percent) do not show symptoms of West Nile infection, with about 20 percent exhibiting mild symptoms such as rash, fever and headache. One in 150 people develop of severe form of the illness that presents with neurological symptoms such as tremors, vision loss and numbness, according to the CDC.

West Nile is not spread through “casual touch” but rather through mosquitoes and medical procedures such as transfusions when blood is exchanged (this is rare as blood is screened for the virus), according to the CDC.

West Nile also affects horses, and has an up to 40 percent fatality rate in the animals, whether they die from the resulting illness or must be euthanized.

 

Resources

West Nile virus: What you need to know — CDC

Fight the bite (CDC’s West Nile page) — CDC

Mosquito woes: Protecting horses from insectborne diseases — Neogen Blog

West Nile outbreak: Questions and answers — Detroit Free Press

 

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