New York: A 40 percent rise in the number of West Nile cases has been reported in the United States, federal health officials said Wednesday.
A total of 1,590 cases, including 66 deaths have been reported through late August this year in the United States, which has been hit hard by the outbreak of the deadly mosquito-borne disease.
The figures, through last week, represent a 40 percent increase in the number of cases and a 61 percent spike in the number of deaths.
About 9,862 cases and 264 deaths were reported in 2003, an all-time record for a full year.
Typical symptoms are fever, headache and body aches, and most people get better on their own in a few days. Less than 1 percent develops neurological symptoms such as stiff necks and even coma and paralysis. Because symptoms can take two weeks to appear, reporting cases lags behind when people became infected.
The disease first appeared in the United States in 1999. Officials say this year`s early spring and hot summer may have contributed to the current boom in cases. Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and then spread the virus to people they bite.
All states except Alaska and Hawaii have found West Nile virus in people, birds or mosquitoes this year. Texas, where the number of confirmed cases soared to 894, with 34 people dead till Wednesday, has been the hardest hit.
The CDC also says it does not expect Hurricane Isaac to have much of an impact on cases in Southern states. Heavy storms can wash out mosquito breeding grounds, although standing water can aid breeding, Petersen said. Many other factors, such as the population of infected birds, influence the severity of West Nile outbreaks, he said.
(With Agency Inputs)