According to the CDC, there was a 40% spike in West Nile cases this week over last week. That's a big jump. CDC officials say this year could be as bad or worse than 2002 and 2003, the worst years for West Nile virus cases yet.
To add insult to infection, officials say 56% of the cases reported so far are causing neurological effects (meningitis or encephalitis, typically). Usually, only about 1 in 150 cases affects the nervous system. Either this year's very high number means the virus is much more dangerous or there have been a whole lot of infections that weren't reported.
Looking at the map provided by the CDC, nearly the entire country is affected by this virus. Light green states have had evidence of West Nile in some way (birds, mosquitos or people). Dark green dots and triangles are definitely human.
Texas has it the worst, with nearly half of all the cases being in the Lone Star State. Besides Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Dakota have had the most cases.
Currently there's only one way to really combat West Nile: Don't get bit.
Wear DEET. Get rid of standing water in the yard. Use screens on your windows. If you do get a bite and develop flu-like symptoms, see a doctor. At the very least you should get a blood test to determine if you have the virus. You'll be helping the CDC fight this tough opponent.
Image courtesy of CDC.
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