Texas West Nile Virus Outbreak: 17 Dead, Hundreds Sickened In Lone Star State

Authorities in Texas have declared a state of emergency after the mosquito-born West Nile virus claimed another another victim, bringing the lone star state’s total death count to 17 for the year.

“Texas is on track to have the most cases of West Nile illness since the disease first emerged in the state in 2002,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement.

Statewide, 381 people have been sickened in 2012, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Seventeen West Nile virus related fatalities — including the 10 in Dallas County — have been reported this year compared with two in 2011 and seven the year before.

“The City of Dallas is experiencing a widespread outbreak of mosquito-borne West Nile virus and has caused and appears likely to continue to cause widespread and severe illness and loss of life,” Mayor Michael Rawlings said in the proclamation of emergency that takes effect Wednesday.

Rawlings added that about 95 percent of mosquitoes tested in the Houston area were found to be carrying the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile infections — characterized by flu-like symptomsincluding fever, headache, nausea, or rashes — may require hospitalization in serious cases, and, in rare instances, the disease is linked to neurological illnesses like meningitis.

While there is currently no vaccine or treatment for the virus, the CDC recommends taking preventative measures like using insect repellent and getting rid of mosquito breeding sites to limit exposure.

As of Tuesday 693 cases — both confirmed and probable — of the West Nile virus including 26 deaths have been reported country-wide so far this year.

Texas tops the list of both cases and fatalities.

via Seattle Times