West Nile Outbreak Continues

By Emily Murray

Does the mere mention of West Nile freak you out? Well, we are currently experiencing the worst U.S. outbreak in history so your alarm is not totally unfounded.

On Wednesday, health officials employed by the government stated that this is the worst outbreak we have seen since West Nile first appeared in the U.S. in 1999. This week, the number of those affected reached 1,118 and the there have been 41 relates deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To compare these numbers to the average, according to a TIME Healthland article on the topic, the normal amount of cases reported by August is about 300. You can see why reaching more than a thousand is starting to raise some serious concerns…

So what exactly is West Nile Virus?

The first species affected are birds, who then pass the virus on to mosquitoes. These insects unfortunately bite people and as a result they infect humans – that is the basic overview of how to virus is spread. Surprisingly many people may be have it and not even show any real signs of symptoms. It can also be contracted during organ transplants or blood transfusions.  It’s been reported that 80% of infected people however will show no signs or suffer no serious health problems.

In extremely severe cases the area around the brain tissues swells and this is where complications can occur.

Why is it so bad this year?

The weather is where most experts are placing the blame. When there is a mild winter cases of West Nile Virus tend to increase. This is because normally cooler temperatures tend to kill off the insects but when it remains warm, more survive and therefore there is an increased risk of these mosquitoes biting more people, hence the rapid spreading of the virus.