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West Nile outbreak could be worst of all time in US, says CDC
Sixty-six lives have been lost to the West Nile virus since the beginning of 2012, and almost 1,600 Americans are reported to have contracted the insect-borne illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said. These numbers have exploded in recent weeks. As recently as August 14, only 700 cases had been reported, with fewer than 20 deaths.
Texas has been the epicenter of this upsurge, with nearly half of the total number of infections being registered in the state where Austin Immediate Care is located. The only three states that have yet to report any cases are Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii. According to CBS, New York state and Minnesota confirmed their first deaths due to West Nile virus complications as of August 21, and twelve other cases have been reported in the Empire state of Western New York Immediate Care. Meanwhile, 43 people have been diagnosed with West Nile virus in Ohio, and 98 have been diagnoses in Mississippi.
The causes of this summer's quick rise in West Nile infections, a tropical disease that is transferred from birds to mosquitoes to humans, relate to weather patterns, according to a story from Time Science and Space. The theory is that the mild winter didn't kill as many mosquitoes as it usually does, while the summer's heat waves have sped up the insects' life-cycle, increasing the quantity of West Nile virus in their saliva.
"The peak of West Nile virus epidemics usually occurs in mid-August, but it takes a couple of weeks for people to get sick, go to the doctor, and get reported. Thus, we expect many more cases to occur," said Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Division, quoted by CNN.
The CDC has stated that 80 percent of West Nile virus infections are asymptomatic. On the opposite end of the spectrum, rare cases can result in brain damage and possibly death. The Texas state government has begun combating the epidemic with insecticide sprays, and the CDC says people trying to ensure their safety can protect themselves by wearing bug spray, protective clothing, and staying indoors at night when mosquitoes are most active.
Categories: Health and Wellness
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