(Photo : Reuters)
The West Nile virus epidemic in the United States continues to increase in numbers as we move further into the month of September. The number of cases has increased 35 percent since last week's official count.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), which hosted a teleconference on the epidemic today, is reassuring Americans that this upward trend should curtail soon, as West Nile outbreaks tend to peak each year in mid-August. However, as of September 12th, the United States has reported a total of 2,636 West Nile cases in 48 states. This year's outbreak has resulted in a total of 118 deaths.
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"As we've reported in the past few weeks, the number of people who have become ill with the West Nile virus disease continues to go up, and we expect the numbers will be high at least through October," Dr. Lyle Petersen, Director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the CDC said during the teleconference. "People are understandably worried about this outbreak, and we're working closely with state and local public health departments to control it."
Of this year's almost 3,000 West Nile virus cases, two-thirds of them have been reported in the following six states: Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan and Oklahoma. 40 percent of all cases have been reported in the state of Texas.
Although 80 percent of people infected with the West Nile virus do not show any symptoms, the remaining 20 percent may develop severe or mild symptoms of the illness.
Severe symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, vision loss and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent. Milder symptoms of the virus include headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes and skin rash.
To avoid transmission of West Nile, the following precautions should be taken: drain standing water, wear bug repellent, wear long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn and place screens on doors and windows.