Last week, the CDC predicted that we would likely pass the epidemic numbers of West Nile cases that we saw in 2002 and 2003 (about 3,000 cases each year).
That doesn't seem too out of reach now, as total cases have jumped from 1,590 to 1,993 since that time. And not unexpectedly, deaths also increased, from 65 to 87.
As we have seen in previous weeks:
- 45 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas - making 2012 the worst year ever for West Nile cases in the state and surpassing the previous records from 2003.
- 70 percent of all cases have been reported from just six states - Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Louisiana.
On the brighter side, it is thought that this year's West Nile disease epidemic peaked in mid- to late-August, although not all of the cases have been reported yet. Unfortunately, we will likely to continue to see new cases through October.
While parents are understandably worried about West Nile and mosquito bites, it is important to keep in mind it is typically people who are over 50 who are at higher risk to get severe West Nile disease symptoms. Taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites can lower their risk even more. Make sure your kids wear insect repellent and protective clothing and that you empty standing water around your home so that mosquitoes can't breed easily.
And remember to support your local community mosquito control programs.