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West Nile Numbers on the Rise, but is it as Bad as Last Year?

We at Mosquito Squad, try to stay abreast of vector-borne diseases and their trends from year to year. At some of you may have seen, human cases of West Nile have been popping up across the country. As of Tuesday this week (August 27th), 45 states and Washington DC have reported the virus in people, birds or mosquitoes. There have been 421 human cases and 13 deaths attributed to the disease. Since the newest numbers were posted, there has been at least one more death and several more cases.

The first reports of West Nile came out nearly two months earlier than it did in 2012, leading most to believe that 2013 was going to be another big year for the virus. We are now in the heat of the normal West Nile season and what are the results? Is it as bad as last year? Simply put, no. It’s not.

On August 22nd of 2012 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held a telebriefing on the current status of West Nile Virus. In that meeting, they stated:

“As of August 21, a total of 47 states have reported West Nile virus infection in people, birds or mosquitoes…A total of 1,118 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 41 deaths, have been reported to CDC…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.” Source.

2012 was a terrible year for West Nile virus, with the final number of cases topping 5,000. As a result, many local governments budgeted for more mosquito testing and spraying in 2013. Spraying happened earlier and more frequently than in years past. And, let’s not forget, not every mosquito can transmit the West Nile virus. The majority of them don’t carry the disease.

Despite (thankfully) tracking behind 2012’s numbers, we do expect the 2013 numbers to rise. Some areas of the country experienced unseasonably cooler temperatures in the spring, reducing the number of active mosquitoes (as opposed to an unusually warm spring in 2013). With the mosquitoes coming out later in the year, we expect that reported West Nile cases will also come later in the year. West Nile symptoms don’t start to appear until a few weeks after the initial bite.

In any year it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from vector-borne disease. At Mosquito Squad, we do that through our professional mosquito control services, but it we encourage everyone to be aware of what is going on in your area. If news comes out about West Nile in your town or county, take extra precautions when spending time outdoors, including wearing long sleeved shirts and pants.

If you have any questions on mosquito control, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office. And have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

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