West Nile virus cases at record high in US: CDC


Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitoes, is estimated to affect around 50 million people around the world, says the WHO.


Justin Sullivan

The number of cases of West Nile virus has reached a staggering 1,590, with 66 deaths, as of Wednesday, the highest toll on record since the disease was detected in the US, according to Reuters.

Dr. Lyle Petersen, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases said, "We think the numbers will continue to rise."

According to the CDC, the disease has been detected in mosquitoes, birds or people in 48 states, excepting Alaska and Hawaii, CBS News reported. Of those, 43 states have reported at least one human case, up from 38 last week.

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Health officials said people should avoid mosquitoes, and advised that people use DEET, dress in long sleeves, stay indoors during dawn and dusk and drain any standing water, according to The National Institutes of Health.

The increase in cases was expected, said Petersen, as late August and early September are typically peak season for the virus, according to USA Today.

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Texas, which has been hardest hit by the disease, reported 783 confirmed cases and 31 deaths.

Of those infected, 20 percent will experience mild symptoms such as fever, headaches, body aches and skin rashes. About one in 150 will get West Nile neuroinvasive disease, with symptoms including headache, fever, stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis, according to USA Today.

Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said, "It looks like it is going to be our worst year ever," according to Reuters. "As I look at the data, I'm not convinced we have peaked."