West Nile cases, deaths rose in past week, CDC says

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Oct 3, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – New cases of West Nile virus (WNV) disease and resulting deaths rose slightly in the past week, ending 2 weeks of declines in the numbers, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) weekly update today.

The report shows that 424 cases, with 16 deaths, were reported in the past week, compared with 403 cases and 13 deaths the week before. The totals for 2012 have now reached 3,969 cases and 163 deaths.

Another 194 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease have been reported in the past week, as compared with 186 the previous week, raising the number of cases this year to 2,010.

The total of 3,969 cases is the highest for this time of year since 2003, the CDC said, echoing its comments in several previous updates.

Texas, with 1,438 cases and 54 deaths, accounts for 36% and 33% of the respective national totals, according to the CDC numbers. Eight states—Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Illinois—account for almost 70%.

Meanwhile, in a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a WNV expert said today that the virus's adaptability and the occurrence of large urban epidemics such as the one in Dallas this year suggest that WNV is likely to remain a serious threat well into the future.

"The explosive pattern of WNV epidemics that could affect any US city coupled with the morbidity and mortality attributable to this disease require preparedness and early decisive action," said Robert W. Haley, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

He recommended a series of public health steps to respond to the threat, including aerial spraying to control mosquitoes when cases are widespread. "Given the effectiveness and safety of available control measures, this is a good time for all local governments to reevaluate and establish policy for response before it is their turn to be visited by WNV," he wrote.

See also:

Oct 3 CDC West Nile update

Oct 3 JAMA commentary

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