Health & Science

CDC Says West Nile Infections Highest Since 2003

Federal health officials say West Nile Virus cases are up 40-percent nationwide over the last week alone and are on pace to surpass the disease's worst years in 2002 and 2003.


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The Centers for Disease Control says almost 1,600  human cases have been reported this year. Sixty-six of those have died. Thirty-one of those deaths were in Texas and three in the City of Houston.

Dr. Lyle Peterson is with the CDC. 

“The 1,590 reported thus far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the last week in August, since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1909.”

Health officials here in Texas say they don’t think the disease has peaked yet.

Harris County Mosquito Control reports 400 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile so far this year. In addition, 118 dead birds have tested positive for the virus.

Mosquitoes bite infected birds and then pass the virus to humans.  

But Peterson says Gulf Coast residents shouldn’t worry about Hurricane Isaac —  it likely won’t cause more cases of the disease.

“Previous experience has shown that floods and hurricanes do not result in increased transmission of West Nile virus. Thus we expect Hurricane Isaac will likely have no noticeable effect on the current West Nile epidemic.”

Back in 2003, the last big year for West Nile, there were 40 deaths in Texas, compared to this year’s 66.

The CDC says 48 states have reported human cases this year. Only Alaska and Hawaii have no cases yet. 

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