CDC: West Nile Virus cases up in 2012
Following a mild winter, we have had one of the hottest summers on record. This has led to an abundance of animal births and a huge increase in the insect population. Because of the severe drought, animals and birds congregate near water where insects proliferate. Consequently, there have been numerous mosquito, tick and flea bites, as well as contact with flies, all of which can transmit infections from animals to man.
This year has seen the largest epidemic of West Nile Virus infections in history. The virus is spread from birds to man by mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that, by late August, 1,590 cases of West Nile Virus had been reported, leading to 65 deaths. Although cases have been reported in 49 states (all but Nevada), five states (Texas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Louisiana and Mississippi) account for 68 percent of the total cases.
The next few weeks look particularly bleak because the highest incidence of infection occurs in late August and September. The actual number of infections is much greater than that reported, as only 20 percent of patients infected with the West Nile Virus develop symptoms. These symptoms occur three to 15 days after being bitten, and include fever, headache, generalized muscle aches, enlarged lymph nodes and occasionally a rash on the trunk of the body.
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