Last Modified: Thursday, September 06, 2012 6:22 PM
It’s now official: the West Nile virus outbreak this year is the worst in this country’s history.
Health officials reported more than 2,110 cases of the virus and 92 deaths attributed to it as of Wednesday, a jump of 25 percent from last week.
“This is the highest number of cases reported to the CDC through the first week in September since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States,” said Lyle Petersen, director of the division of vector-borne infectious diseases at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Texas has been the hardest-hit state, with nearly 50 percent of the recorded cases and 40 deaths.
According to the CDC, 70 percent of the cases are in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Michigan and Louisiana.
About one in every five persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop fever, headache and body aches, nausea and vomiting. They may also have swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
The CDC reports one in every 150 infected people will develop a severe illness that includes high fever, headaches, neck stiffness, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions, loss of vision and paralysis.
The American College of Emergency Physicians, meanwhile, has said the most effective way to avoid the West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
The organization’s recommendations include:
l When you are outside, use an insect repellent that contains an EPA-registered active ingredient, such as DEET. Never use DEEP on infants under 2 months old. Young children should not apply DEET on themselves, and do not apply to their hands, eyes or mouth areas or on any wounds. Use caution and use lower concentrations of DEET (such as 10 percent) on young children.
l Mosquitos are most active when it is darker, such as during dawn or dusk. Wear long sleeves and pants during that time or consider staying indoors during those hours.
l Put screens on windows or sliding doors to keep mosquitoes out.
l Get rid of standing water near your house or on your lawn, such as in puddles, flower pots, buckets, barrels and child wading pools when they’re not in use. These are mosquito breeding sites. Keep fountain waters flowing if possible and maintain clean gutters around your property.
l Don’t handle dead birds. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Contact your local health department for instructions on reporting and disposing of the body.
“Always take precautions and go to your doctor or the nearest emergency department to get checked out if you feel you have some of the symptoms associated with West Nile,” said Dr. David Seaberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “It’s always better to be cautious.”
As in most cases, an ounce of prevention ...
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.