The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of confirmed deaths due to West Nile virus this year rose to 19% this week to 219 in United States. The total number of cases, meanwhile, was up 4% to 4,725.
According to Marc Fischer, medical epidemiologist working in CDC’s Fort Collins, Colorado, laboratory, the center may release the full report of cases and deaths as early as next year. “It takes a lot of time for them to trickle from the local doctor to the local hospital to the state health department to the CDC.”
Close to 70% of the cases have been centered in eight states namely Texas (which has over one-third of the total), California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan, and Oklahoma.
This year marks the second worst West Nile virus outbreak on record, CDC says, and it is possible that it may overtake the outbreak back in 2003 in terms of deaths. In 2003, there were 9,862 cases with 264 deaths.
Fischer explained that numbers in 2003 could be in “disproportion” as West Nile virus tests were first commercially available in 2003, which tested a lot of patients in some states (particularly in the West) and less in others.
Because the weather begins to turn colder, mosquito activity starts to wane and so do the number of infections.