Last year, 167 people were killed in the US after being infected with the West Nile virus. Although the increase is small, experts encourage people to protect themselves against mosquito bites during the summer. According to the CDC, a total of 2,647 cases of West Nile virus were reported last year, 550 more than the previous year. Even more, the more severe form of the virus, neuroinvasive disease, was also more frequent last year.
Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the division of infectious diseases and immunology at the NYU Langone School of Medicine, said: “I think [the report] confirms and says again that this is a significant problem in the US, that we have a couple of thousand people getting severe neurologic infections. What the report tells us is, as, in years past, West Nile virus is the most frequent cause of neuroinvasive disease.”
Mosquitoes Spread Deadly West Nile Virus Across The US
New data also shows that the virus spread more in different locations, compared to previous years. While usually there were large numbers of West Nile infected patients in Arizona and California, these states had smaller amounts last years. In 2018, there were 278 neuroinvasive infections in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Illinois alone saw 126 cases, while Texas had 108 infected patients. Nebraska and Dakota had the highest numbers of infected patients.
West Nile is an arbovirus, being transmitted through mosquito bites. No vaccine has been developed yet, so the surest way of preventing the infection is protection. The virus can lead to inflammation of the brain, seizures, and paralysis, and children are the most vulnerable to the infection. Another deadly virus spread by mosquitos is La Crosse, which can also be a cause of concern, as it is the most common cause of neuroinvasive arboviral disease. Experts recommend wearing long sleeves, long pants, and always using bug spray.