World Bulletin / News Desk
The number of U.S. cases of West Nile virus rose 25 percent in the latest week, putting the 2012 outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease on track to be the most severe on record in the United States, health officials said on Wednesday.
It's already the worst year ever in Texas, they said.
So far this year, 1,993 cases have been reported to federal health officials, up from 1,590 reported the week before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its weekly update of outbreak data. A total of 87 people have now died from the disease, compared with 66 reported one week ago.
The disease has been reported in people, birds or mosquitoes in 48 U.S. states, so far absent only in Alaska and Hawaii. About half of all human cases are in Texas, the CDC said.
Of the nearly 2,000 cases reported to the CDC this year, 1,069, or 54 percent, are of the severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, which can lead to meningitis and encephalitis.
The milder form of the disease causes flu-like symptoms and is rarely lethal.
Texas, the outbreak's epicenter, has had 40 deaths and 495 neuroinvasive cases this year, said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
About a quarter of the cases have been in Dallas County, he said. "This is our worst year ever in Texas," Lakey said.
The previous Texas record was in 2003, when there were 40 deaths and 439 neuroinvasive cases.
Texas has had 1,013 cases overall this year, Lakey said.
CDC figures - which sometimes lag behind state data - show that South Dakota has the next-highest number, with 119 cases and two deaths.
More than 70 percent of the cases have been reported from Texas, South Dakota and four other states: Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan, the CDC said.
The CDC said the number of cases so far this year is the highest reported to federal health officials through the first week in September since the disease was first detected in the New York City in 1999. The worst outbreak overall occurred in 2003, with 9,862 cases and 264 deaths for the full year.
The disease is thought to have originated in Africa.
This year's outbreak is already nearly three times the size of last year's, when 712 cases were reported nationally, with 43 deaths.
In Texas, aerial spraying during the last several weeks in Dallas County and neighboring Denton County have been effective in reducing the mosquito population that transmits the virus from infected birds to humans and other mammals, Lakey said.
West Nile outbreaks tend to be unpredictable. Hot temperatures, rainfall amounts and ecological factors such as the bird and mosquito populations have to align just right to trigger an outbreak like the one this year.
Drought can reduce mosquito population while heavy rains can wash out breeding sites, said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases for the CDC.
Cities are more prone to outbreaks even during a drought because of widespread use of sprinkler systems and standing birdbaths that can cause water to pool and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
"We've seen cases in places like Phoenix, which is in the middle of the desert" because of standing water, Petersen said.
Google will take on half of HTC's research and development staff -- about 2,000 people -- many of whom have already been working on the Silicon Valley firm's Pixel handset, as well as intellectual property (IP) licensing.
After 13 years orbiting the ringed planet, NASA crashed probe into Saturn’s surface
Cassini, an international project that cost $3.9 billion and included scientists from 27 nations, disintegrated as it dove into Saturn's atmosphere at a speed of 75,000 miles (120,700 kilometers) per hour.
Company reveals 3 new iPhones, including new flagship model with facial recognition software
The firm along with SAIC Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen are calling back the vehicles owing to a faulty fuel pump, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said on its website.
The platforms will also have to strengthen their oversight over all published information, deleting all illegal content while also alerting authorities to the postings.
An H-IIA rocket blasted off at about 2:30 pm (0530 GMT) from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Event offers unprecedented chance for continuous observations across country
Turkish Statistical Institute releases results of April survey on Internet usage
A source close to the matter confirmed a New York Times report on Friday that Facebook took the unusual step of creating an app called Colorful Balloons and releasing it through a local company with no hint that the social network was involved.
The iPhone maker is the latest from Silicon Valley to face a conundrum in balancing their value for human rights and free expression against a government intent on controlling online content.
Researchers use CRISPR gene editing to remove mutation that causes heart failure
Equipped with smart ammunition system, Armed Bayraktar TB2 drones hit precise targets during tests on Sunday
Johnson, kicking off a trip to Japan, visited the robotic centre at Waseda University, which works closely with Britain's University of Birmingham on robotic technologies.
Juno spacecraft will get closest look ever at planet’s massive, centuries-old storm