West Nile Virus was discovered in the United States in 1999 and is the most common disease spread by mosquitoes throughout the U.S. Mosquitoes typically contract West Nile when they feed on birds that are infected. Once infected, mosquitoes can then pass the virus to humans through their bites. It has been estimated that between 1999 and 2010 over 3 million people were infected with West Nile Virus.
The risk for transmission is highest during the spring, summer, and early fall months when mosquito activity is at its highest. In 2020, the CDC received reports of human infection of West Nile virus in 36 states. This year, the CDC reports that as of May 25, 2021, 664 cases of West Nile virus in people have been reported.
States That Reported Human Infection of West Nile Virus in 2020:
Now, in the thick of summer, states are starting to report cases of West Nile-positive mosquitoes. Over the last month, the five states below have confirmed West Nile virus findings:
Massachusetts: In June of 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed its first detection of West Nile virus for the year.
Washington: On July 1st, it was reported that West Nile was detected in mosquitoes in Walla Walla County.
New York: In a press release issued on July 2nd, Rockland County confirmed that two groups of West Nile-positive mosquitoes were confirmed within the county by the New York State Health Department.
Texas: Over Independence Day weekend, it was reported that West Nile was detected on a construction site in Sugar Land.
California: Also over Independence Day weekend, the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District announced positive West Nile virus samples.
Idaho/Utah: On July 5th, local news outlets reported that the first West Nile-positive mosquito of the year was found in Bear Lake Country, Idaho, which borders the state of Utah.
North Carolina: Local news outlets have reported that West Nile was identified in a mosquito collected in Charlotte on July 14th.
In addition to the local reports above, the CDC is also keeping tabs on cases of West Nile virus found in both wildlife and people. The CDC reports human infections of West Nile virus in Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, and Iowa. Mosquitoes have earned the title of deadliest animal in the world for good reason. It’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones from the risks associated with their bites.