West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus Update

What You Need to Know to Protect You and Your Kids.

CDC: West Nile outbreak one of largest in US

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.

  • Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.
  • You can help prevent West Nile with the "four Ds."
    • Use mosquito repellent with DEET
    • Dress in long pants and long sleeves
    • Be especially careful at dusk and dawn
    • Drain any standing water, such as kiddie pools or bird fountains, where mosquitoes like to breed.

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.

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