West Nile on track to hit record level

35% increase in cases since last week

ATLANTA | September 13, 2012

A total of 2,636 U.S. cases of West Nile virus were reported to the government -- an increase of 35 percent since last week, health officials say.

Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said of the 2,636 cases, 53 percent were classified as neuroinvasive disease such as meningitis or encephalitis and 47 percent were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease. There were a total of 118 deaths.

For comparison, the numbers reported as of Sept. 4 were 1,993 cases total, with 1,069 cases of neuroinvasive disease and 87 deaths, Petersen said.

"The number of deaths is likely to go up, simply because the number of deaths is kind of a lagging indicator of what happened, because simply it takes somebody who gets severe disease, they may die a week, a month, or even six months later, after the initial illness," Petersen told reporters during a telephone news conference.

"If this year turns out that we'll have the most number of neuroinvasive disease cases of any year, which is what we're on track of, we would expect that this year would have the largest number of deaths as any year."

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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