by Cheryl Rowan
This year's West Nile virus outbreak is on track to be the biggest ever since the virus first appeared in the United States in 1999, U.S. health officials reported last week. As of the third week of August, there have been a total of 1,118 cases of West Nile virus in people in 38 states, including 41 deaths.
In Texas, which has been hardest hit by the epidemic, 586 cases have been reported with 21 deaths. Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma have also been hit hard by West Nile virus this summer.
Experts do not know why this year's outbreak is so much worse than previous years, but suspect it could be a confluence of factors, most notably hot weather. [HealthDay News, August 22, 2012]
See also MedlinePlus Health Topic page on West Nile Virus and CDC on West Nile Virus and Protecting Mosquito Bites.