Blog | Monday, August 20, 2012

QD: News Every Day--West Nile outbreak spurs Dallas to call for spraying, state of emergency

West Nile infections have led to 336 cases in Texas, including 14 deaths, which has prompted Dallas' mayor to call for aerial spraying and spurred calls for a state of emergency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains West Nile updates on its website and reported numbers for the entire country.

As of August, 693 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 26 deaths, have been reported, of which 406 (59%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 287 (41%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.

The total is the most cases reported to CDC by this week of August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Texas reported half of all West Nile infections across the country, and more than 80% of the cases have been reported from Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and California.

But, as public health expert David Katz, MD, FACP, cautioned, "as climate changes, so will epidemiology."

For more on how climate change spurred West Nile's "success" in adapting to America, read science writer Carl Zimmer's article outlining its spread across the U.S.