According to CDC, West Nile Cases Continue to Rise

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On the heels of the Department of Health and Human Services confirming the fifteenth West Nile related death in Dallas County, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that the West Nile virus is not going away.

In fact, according to the CDC the number of cases is continuing to rise.

As of Tuesday, states have reported over 2,636 West Nile cases, with 118 fatalities; the most since 2003. Public health officials agree that aggressive random testing in 2003 created the higher figures that year.

Two-thirds of all cases have reported from six states (Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan, and Oklahoma), and 40 percent have been reported from Texas. In terms of total cases reported, Texas leads all states with 1057 cases and 46 deaths.

“We still believe that this year’s outbreak is the largest to date and certainly the most serious,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.

Although, with the warm weather lasting into late September, there is a chance for some areas of the country to see more reported cases.

“The longer the weather stays warm, the more transmission that’s going to occur, and so it’s certainly possible that in some areas of the country the outbreak may not have peaked yet.  We will only know that when all is said and done in the end, but based on historical data that we believe in most areas of the country, the epidemic probably peaked around the end of August.  But, certainly there is as you point out a lot of transmission that still could be occurring in many parts of the country,” says Peterson.

Just last week, public health officials reported only 1,993 human West Nile virus cases and only 87 fatalities.

CDC officials do say they believe this year’s outbreak may have already peaked in late August, and they expect it to taper off during or after October.

“However, people should continue to take preventive measures, but we’re hopeful that the worst of the outbreak is behind us,” said Petersen.

Health Officials still say the best way to avoid exposure to West Nile virus is to practice the four D’s:

  • use Insect repellents that contain DEET
  • Drain any standing water
  • Dress in long, loose and light-colored clothing and
  • take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from Dusk to Dawn