Well, it’s official: 2012 is the second-worst year for West Nile cases in the United States since 1999. If that doesn’t seem like that long a span of time, remember that the disease didn’t exist in America until 1999. (The Nile is a river in Egypt.)
The number of West Nile virus cases across the United States has topped 4,500, with another 282 cases reported last week, making 2012 the nation’s second-worst year on record for the mosquito-borne disease, government figures showed on Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 4,531 cases have been reported this year, the highest number since the record outbreak of 2003, when 9,862 cases were reported.
And that’s maybe the good news? After all:
Just over half of the cases reported to the CDC this year have been 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.
The “milder” form is rarely lethal. Whew.
I know what you’re thinking: Am I going to die from this? Am I?
Good question! And the answer is: Probably not this year, unless you live in Texas. (All bets for future years are off.)
Here’s the CDC’s map of counties in which a patient has tested positive for West Nile. If your county is pink, bad news.
This map, though, is kind of hard to read and doesn’t do enough to induce panic. So instead, here’s a series of maps showing the states where West Nile has been most prevalent in 2012.
Number of cases, by state
Your winner? Texas.
Number of deaths, by state
Your winner? Texas, again! Lone Star! Six flags! Etc.
Percentage of neuroinvasive cases (the severe kind), by state
This one tells you how likely you are to get the bad version of the disease based on the state you live in. Sorry about your luck, Vermont and North Carolina!
Should you actually panic about this? Only if you see a mosquito in the next three months or so. Otherwise, I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
US West Nile outbreak second-worst at more than 4,500 cases, Reuters.