In one week, the number of West Nile virus cases has tripled, and a U.S. health official warned Thursday that this year's outbreak may top last year's record.Funny thing is, West Nile virus is controllable, if only a certain pesticide known as DDT was legal to use . . .
The numbers are starting to change very, very quickly," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites). "That is very concerning."
So far there are more than 153 cases in 16 states, an explosion of the mosquito-borne virus in just a week, she said. That doesn't include 39 new cases Colorado officials reported Thursday.
A week ago, there were 59 cases nationwide. Health officials had expected the disease to spread this year, invading Western states previously unscathed. But they appeared somewhat surprised at its speed.
The new numbers compare with 112 cases in four states for this date last year.
"It indicates we are starting the epidemic with more cases than last year," the CDC director said. She warned of "a great number of infected people."
Last year, 4,156 people caught the virus, and 284 died. The United States also suffered the biggest reported outbreak of West Nile encephalitis in the world in 2002.
It’s horrific to know that every death caused by West Nile was preventable. I wonder just what the body count will have to reach before the DDT ban is lifted.