"We're in the midst of one of the largest West Nile virus outbreaks ever seen in the United States," said Dr. Lyle Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during a telebriefing Wednesday to provide an update on the West Nile outbreak based on reports from state health departments.
Texas has reported the most cases, however, 47 states, including Massachusetts, have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes, the update said. Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont have not reported any cases.
In Massachusetts, so far this year 119 mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile, according to the state, and there has been .
According to the CDC update, 1,118 cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported. Forty-one of those cases resulted in death.
"These 1,118 cases and 41 deaths identified thus far in 2012 are the highest numbers of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the third week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. In comparison, one month ago, there were only 25 people with West Nile virus disease reported to the CDC," the update said.
People who could potentially have the West Nile virus are asked not to give blood to prevent spreading the disease. It takes about two weeks before seeing visible signs of the virus.
According to the update, it is unclear as to why there are more cases this year.
A mosquito with the in early August. The entire town was to control mosquitoes shortly after the mosquito was found.
The update encourages people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:
- Using insect repellents when outdoors and wear long sleeves and pants
- Install screens on windows and doors and repairs holes
- Use air conditioning
- Empty standing water from things like gutters, birdbaths, flower pots, etc.
- Support your local mosquito control program
What do you think about this? Are health departments doing enough to keep the outbreak under control? Let us know in the comments section.