World Bulletin / News Desk
The outbreak of West Nile disease in the United States moved a step closer on Wednesday to becoming the second worst on record with federal health authorities reporting 280 cases of the virus-caused illness over the past week.
There have now been 4,249 cases of West Nile recorded this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 cases fewer than in 2006, the second-largest outbreak on record.
The number of deaths rose by five to 168 since last week, the CDC said.
The worst year on record for West Nile disease was 2003, when 9,862 cases were reported, the CDC said.
The pace of new cases of the disease - which is transmitted from infected birds to humans by mosquitoes -- has slowed since late summer, authorities said.
More than 70 percent of the cases have been reported in eight states: Texas, Mississippi, Michigan, South Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Illinois and California. Texas has been the hardest hit, recording close to 40 percent of the cases in the country, according to the CDC.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has been the epicenter of this year's outbreak, with 33 deaths, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that health officials in Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth, may have vastly underreported cases of the serious neuroinvasive form of West Nile.
The report said the number of cases detected through Tarrant County blood bank screenings - information that helps public officials determine the size of an outbreak - differs significantly from what officials there have reported.
But state health officials said it was unlikely cases were overlooked.
The severe neuroinvasive form of the disease almost always requires hospitalization and can lead to meningitis, encephalitis and death, according to the CDC.
"Neuroinvasive disease is not subtle," said Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas health department. "We're confident physicians knew about the outbreak and were on the lookout for disease."
Nationwide, half of cases reported to the CDC have been of the neuroinvasive form. The other half are West Nile Fever, a milder form which causes flu-like symptoms and is not deadly.
Outbreaks tend to be unpredictable and are typically triggered by a combination of hot weather and intermittent rainfall as well as ecological factors such as the size of the bird and mosquito populations.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection found that 82.8 percent of the contaminated samples contained toxic inorganic pollutants, including cadmium, mercury, arsenic, chromium and lead.
Pakistan's army will join campaign to eradicate polio.
Instead of testing one drug at a time, a novel lung cancer study announced will allow British researchers to test up to 14 drugs from AstraZeneca and Pfizer at the same time within one trial
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office said that medical officers at the centre had confirmed three cases of the potentially fatal tropical disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) last month ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean, prompting Japan to cancel its 2014-2015 Antarctic hunt, the programme's mainstay, as it pledged to abide by the ruling
Researchers said they have identified a protein on the egg cell's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of a sperm cell, allowing the two cells to join
The Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus was found in the person's blood who died on Sunday in Istanbul.
Authorities said a cancer-inducing chemical had been found in tap water supplied by the firm at 20 times above national safety levels, state media said
Ebola is a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure.
The central government has identified the heavily industrialised Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region as one of the main fronts in its war against pollution
The findings of the study and the likely changes to the food chain will be of concern to millions in the tropics who depend on coral reefs for food security and livelihoods.
More compact city designs that cut commutes, insulation to save energy, better public transport, cycle lanes and pedestrian areas can all cut emissions, mainly from fossil fuels.
Along with Saudi Arabia, cases of MERS have so far been reported in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Jordan and Oman.
The proposed establishment of an African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as proposals for a centralized regulatory system for medical products, is expected to feature on the conference agenda.
The report, endorsed by governments, is meant as the main scientific guide for nations working on a U.N. deal to be agreed in late 2015 to rein in world greenhouse gas emissions
MERS, which emerged in the Middle East in 2012, is from the same family as the SARS virus and can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.