West Nile Outbreak is Not Over Yet

CDC is still receiving reports of West Nile virus

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) We're not out of the mosquito-infested woods yet. Cases of West Nile are still being reported, keeping 2012 on track to be the second-worst year for the illness in America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the most recent numbers for West Nile on October 9.

Four hundred and twenty new cases had been reported over the past week, falling only 20 cases short of 2006, the second-worst year on record.

"Take precautions against mosquito bites."

The CDC is responsible for the surveillance of West Nile virus. It has been updating the number of reported cases throughout the outbreak, which started in early summer.

As of October 9, 48 states reported finding West Nile virus in humans, mosquitos, or birds, which transfer the virus to mosquitos.

That week saw 420 new cases, bringing the total to 4,249. The reported cases are nearly split between mild and severe cases: 2,123 were classified as neuroinvasive disease, and 2,126 were non-neuroinvasive.

A neuroinvasive case of West Nile can develop into meningitis or encephalitis, potential deadly diseases that work their way into the brain. One hundred and sixty eight people have died so far from this type of the disease.

There may be many more cases that haven't been reported. People who have a mild form of the virus may never visit the doctor or be diagnosed with West Nile.

There is no treatment for the virus. Patients with the severe form are monitored in the hospital.

The good news is that the pace of the virus has slowed down, and appears to have peaked in summer. During the summer, public health officials worried that this year might end up being the worst on record – and time will tell if it does.

In the meantime, the CDC recommends trying to prevent mosquito bites by taking these measures:

  • When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used. 
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 14, 2012
Last Updated:
October 15, 2012