The United States is facing one of the worst West Nile Virus outbreaks ever seen in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eight out of 10 people who contract West Nile do not display symptoms, according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Health. But the virus can stay dormant in the body for years and lead to kidney disease, the study data shows.
“This study suggests that West Nile virus infection not only can persist, but that like a termite it slowly and surely gnaws away at kidney function,” William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told the New York news site, AllMediaNY.com.
The CDC said that since Aug. 21, 47 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes. The only states not reporting activity are Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont. Of the 47 states, that reported virus activity, 38 had human cases of disease.
A total of 1,118 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 41 deaths, have been reported to the CDC. Of these, 629, or 56%, were classified as a serious neuroinvasive disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis. These 1,118 cases and 41 deaths identified thus far in 2012 are the highest numbers of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the third week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. In comparison, one month ago, there were only 25 people with West Nile virus disease reported to the CDC.
According to the CDC, approximately 75% of the cases have been reported from five states, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma, and about half are from Texas. The peak of West Nile virus epidemics usually occur in mid-August, the agency said, but it takes a couple of weeks before people get sick. Therefore the cases now being reported reflect infections from a week or more ago. The CDC said they expect many more cases to occur and the risk of West Nile virus infection will probably continue through the end of September.
The agency is encouraging the public to use insect repellents when they go outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk, install or repair screens on windows and doors, use air conditioning if you have it, empty standing water from items outside of your home such as gutters, flower pots, buckets, kiddie pools, and birdbaths. ~Nephronline~