According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health officials reported Wednesday three times the usual number of West Nile cases for this time of year and one expert called it "one of the largest" outbreaks since the virus appeared in this country in 1999.
So far, 1,118 illnesses have been reported, about half of them in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an average year, fewer than 300 cases are reported by mid-August. There have also been 41 deaths this year.
"We're in the midst of one of the largest West Nile outbreaks ever seen in the United States," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, a CDC official.
The peak of the virus season usually occurs in mid-August, so it is time to take precautions.
Thus far in 2012, 47 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
Seek medical care immediately if you have severe headaches or confusion.
If you develop symptoms of severe West Nile virus illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately.