As of September 4, 2012, 87 deaths caused by West Nile Virus have been reported in the United States. There have been 1,993 cases of West Nile Virus in people, with 70 percent of those cases occurring in six states: Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan.
Forty-eight states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes.
West Nile Virus is a potentially dangerous illness that is primarily spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes themselves become infected when they feed on infected birds.
About one in 150 people infected with the virus will develop severe illness that could cause permanent neurological effects or death. About 20 percent of people can have symptoms for up to several weeks. Eighty percent of infected people show no symptoms at all. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms.
The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
- 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.
Learn more about the West Nile Virus outbreak from the Centers for Disease Control.