West Nile outbreak largest ever in U.S.
By Elizabeth Cohen
Wed August 22, 2012
(CNN) — The recent West Nile virus outbreak is the largest ever seen in the United States, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of cases so far this year is the highest recorded through August since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999. As of Tuesday, 38 states had reported human infections.
The cases reported to the CDC as of Tuesday total 1,118, including 41 deaths. That number rose to 42 on Wednesday when a death was reported in Arkansas.
“The peak of West Nile virus epidemics usually occurs in mid-August, but it takes a couple of weeks for people to get sick, go to the doctor and get reported,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, the director of the CDC’s Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Division. “Thus we expect many more cases to occur.”
Petersen said that the reason for the high number of cases this year is unclear, but that unusually warm weather could have fostered favorable conditions for the disease’s transfer to humans.