Aug 15 (CIDRAP News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday that West Nile cases have tripled in just the last week. As of yesterday, the CDC was reporting 446 cases of West Nile virus and 10 deaths. Colorado accounts for more than half of those cases, with 247 and 6 deaths.
"West Nile is currently really picking up momentum within the United States. It's important to point out that based on prior seasons, we are just now getting into the peak period of West Nile activity which, over the last several years, has been in late August and early September, and it certainly looks like we will be following a similar course over the next several weeks," said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, at a press conference yesterday.
Because the number of cases continues to climb and the peak season is just beginning, the CDC is strongly urging people to follow certain precautions to avoid contracting the virus. Those precautions include wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, using insect repellant containing DEET, and removing standing water from property.
During the press conference, CDC officials addressed the screening of the nation's blood supply for West Nile (see Aug 14 CIDRAP News story). According to Dr. Tony Marfin, acting deputy director of the CDC's Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases, during 2002, 23 people contracted West Nile virus from blood transfusions. Since that time, blood banks and hospitals have been refusing donors who are showing flu-like symptoms, and, beginning in July of this year, all blood donations been tested for the presence of West Nile virus.
"Because most West Nile Virus-infected persons remain asymptomatic, collection of data regarding these viremic donors has been an invaluable surveillance tool, in addition to its intended value of screening and removal of potentially infectious products from the nation's blood supply," said Marfin
CDC briefing Aug 14
CDC current case count
CDC West Nile home page