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West Nile Virus Hits Western States

CDC Reports Early Infections in More States Than Last Year
WebMD Health News

July 15, 2004 -- West Nile virus is striking early and hard in the West. Dozens of new cases have been reported just this past week. Three people have died this year from the virus.

A new CDC report shows that from July 7 to 13, there were 30 new cases of West Nile virus infection in four states: Arizona, California, Colorado, and Iowa.

That brings this year's total to 108 cases of infection, with 61% in Arizona:

  • 66 in Arizona
  • 20 in California
  • 12 in Colorado
  • 3 in New Mexico
  • 2 in Florida
  • 1 each in Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming

The three deaths also occurred in western states: Two in Arizona and one in Iowa, the CDC reports.

At this time last year, three cases had been reported in Texas and one in South Carolina, with 32 states confirming West Nile activity -- that is, virus detected in mosquitoes, birds, horses, and/or humans.

The 2003 West Nile epidemic claimed 262 lives, with 2,863 cases of brain or nervous-system infection with the virus, the most serious manifestation of West Nile virus infection. Overall, there were nearly 10,000 reported cases of West Nile infection.

However, only people who get ill are reported to the CDC. It's thought that eight out of 10 people infected with the virus never get any symptoms at all. West Nile disease is much more likely in people over the age of 50, statistics show.

Also, last year's epidemic affected 46 of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. West Nile virus has been spreading westward since its 1999 introduction in New York, but there have been relatively few cases west of the Rocky Mountains.

This year, dead birds carrying West Nile virus have been reported in 29 states; infected horses have been reported in 11 states (mostly western states). Chicken flocks carrying the infection have been reported in four states.

Mosquito-infected pools have been identified in 14 states: Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, the CDC reports.

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