Health Officials Warn of West Nile Virus Outbreak
Two cases have been reported in Maryland, as the country prepares for the possibility of the worst outbreak in U.S. history.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the number of West Nile virus cases indicate "one of the biggest outbreaks" since the virus arrived in the U.S. in 1999, after reported cases jumped more than 60 percent in one week, reports USA Today.
In one week, reported cases of the virus increased from 693 with 26 deaths, to 1,118 cases with 41 deaths, according to the report.
Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases for the CDC, told the USA Today that number of cases–triple the average for mid-August–indicate this is one of the worst outbreaks in U.S. history.
Seventy-five percent of the cases are in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma—with Texas reporting nearly half, according to the story. Forty seven states have reported some form of the virus, while 38 states have reported human cases.
State health officials in Maryland confirmed the second case of West Nile virus in the state this year, reports the Washington Post. Last year, 19 cases were reported in total.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture provides these tips for avoiding mosquitoes:
- Avoid areas of high mosquito infestation.
- Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirt and hat when outdoors.
- Use mosquito repellents containing DEET. Consult a physician before applying DEET to young children.
- Restrict the outdoor play of your children if mosquitoes are present.
- Drain all water-holding outdoor containers around the home.
- Inspect basements and crawl spaces. If they are flooded, drain as quickly as possible.
- The very young, the elderly and persons with depressed immune systems are at most risk for acquiring disease from mosquito bites.