Texas Records Worst Year Ever For West Nile

The Centers for Disease Control reports that West Nile cases continue to rise. Almost 45 percent of the human cases have occurred in Texas.

The total number of reported cases nationwide is now close to 2,000, and 87 of those people have died.

 Dr. David Lakey is with the Texas Department of State Health Services:

“As of this week, 2012 is now officially our worst year in the state of Texas for West Nile disease. Our previous worst year was 2003.”

Forty Texans have died from the disease so far this year.

That’s the same number of deaths in 2003, but health officials say the numbers are expected to keep increasing for the next few weeks. That’s because there’s a lag time between actual infections and when they get reported.

Dr. Lakey says the good news is that efforts to control the mosquito population seem to be working.

Aerial spraying of insecticide is taking place in the Dallas and Denton areas, and the CDC had teams on the ground last week to study how well it was working.

“In the areas that had aerial spraying, the number of the mosquito that carries West Nile virus, its density decreased by 93 percent, where the weather allowed us to do two consecutive treatments.”

Unfortunately, in areas of north Texas where there wasn’t aerial spraying, the number of mosquitoes increased.

Dr. Lyle Petersen with the CDC says people still need to take precautions right now.

“We expect West Nile transmission to continue until October in most regions of the country.”

The city of Houston has had 24 cases of West Nile, three of them fatal. In the rest of Harris County, there have been 13 additional cases, but none of them fatal.

Harris County has also conducted aerial spraying, but is now finished.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...