Entries in Mosquitoes (2)


West Nile Spreading Farther and Faster This Season, CDC Says

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(DALLAS) -- Aerial mosquito spraying is underway in Dallas County and Houston to prevent the spread of West Nile virus while the disease spreads farther, faster and earlier in the season than ever before, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only 29 cases were reported a month ago.  Now, the CDC is reporting 1,118 cases spread across 47 states, with 41 deaths.

Seventy-five percent of the cases have been reported from five states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Illinois.  Texas appears to be the hardest hit, with 586 reported cases in total.  The death toll in Texas was 21 as of Wednesday, with Dallas County hit hardest, with a total of 270 cases and 11 deaths.

No place is striking back harder against the West Nile virus than Texas, which has launched an aerial assault against mosquitoes despite objections from environmental groups.  Overnight, planes carrying pesticides took to the skies dousing more than 63,000 acres of land in Dallas and Houston to battle the disease.

"These kinds of chemicals are most toxic to young children, infants and babies," said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The CDC and health officials in Texas insist the worries about the spray are overblown and pale in comparison to the devastating effects of the disease.  Harris County Mosquito Control Director Dr. Rudy Bueno told ABC News that the spray is "very safe and effective."

"We normally kill 90, 95 percent of the mosquitoes that are out flying the night we put this out," pilot Malcolm Williams said.

The CDC says this outbreak is on track to be the worst in the country's history.  The worst year on record is 2003, in which the country saw 9,862 cases of West Nile virus infection and 264 deaths.

Many experts point to last year's mild winter for the drastic outbreak and the scorching temperatures this summer, helping the mosquitoes thrive.

Eighty percent of the people who contract the West Nile virus have no symptoms and their body eventually gets rid of it, according to the CDC.  The remaining 20 percent experience flu-like symptoms.

One in 150 people will develop more severe forms of the disease and experience neurological symptoms and brain swelling, according to ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


West Nile-Related Deaths Confirmed in Texas, California

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two West Nile-related deaths were confirmed Tuesday 2,000 miles apart -- the 11th confirmed this year in Dallas County, Texas, and the first in Fresno County, Calif.

Nationwide, there have been at least 26 deaths attributed to the West Nile virus this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health said an elderly woman was hospitalized for the virus and later died, marking the second West Nile-related death in California in 2012.

“All residents, especially those over 50 years of age and those with chronic health conditions, must take this disease seriously and should take every precaution to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Edward L. Moreno, director and health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, in a news release. “I also encourage residents to engage the services of their mosquito abatement district, if necessary, to eliminate possible mosquito-breeding sources around their homes.”

Dallas County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Patricia Huston would not provide any specific identifying information on the county’s 11th virus fatality because of medical confidentiality and personal privacy rules.

The death came just a day after Dallas launched a second aerial attack against the West Nile virus. Five small planes sprayed more than 360,000 acres with mosquito-killing pesticides.

The first aerial attack was last Friday, making it the first time in more than 40 years that Dallas County has used an aerial launch to treat a virus.

“What our preliminary data is showing is that the aerial planes that are going out are knocking down these mosquitoes,” DCHHS director Zachary Thompson told ABC News affiliate WFAA.

The DCHHS is testing mosquito traps set around the city to see how much the insecticides have affected the West Nile mosquito population, Thompson added.

The insecticide aerial fight came on the cusp of the worst nationwide outbreak of the West Nile virus, which has now killed 11 people in Dallas alone and sickened more than 200.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 693 cases in 43 states, with the majority of infections in Texas. Oklahoma, which borders Texas to the north, has reported more than 100 cases, three of which have resulted in death.

According to the CDC, up to 20 percent of infected people develop West Nile fever and exhibit mild symptoms -- including fever, headache, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting. They might also develop swollen lymph glands and a rash on the chest, back or stomach. Symptoms can last for as little as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

On average, about four out of five people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not show any symptoms at all.

There is no specific treatment for a West Nile virus infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own.

There is no known cure for the virus; however, there are preventative measures. DCHHS said the best way to avoid exposure to West Nile virus is to practice the four Ds:

  1. Use insect repellents that contain DEET.
  2. Drain any standing water.
  3. Dress in long, loose and light-colored clothing.
  4. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio