FRIDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Officials in Dallas County, Texas began aerial spraying of insecticides overnight Thursday to combat the worst outbreak of West Nile virus in the nation this year, and one of the worst outbreaks since the virus was first identified in the United States in 1999.
Dallas County has recorded 10 deaths and hundreds of cases of the mosquito-borne illness so far, while Texas overall has seen 465 cases and 17 deaths, according to state statistics. This is putting 2012 "on track to be the worst year ever for West Nile virus," said Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Planes began spraying an area of Dallas Thursday night until early Friday, and more areas were expected to be sprayed later Friday, the NBC News affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth reported Friday. Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings declared a state of emergency before approving the aerial spraying in his city.
Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma have also been hit hard by West Nile virus this summer. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana has reported 37 cases and six deaths, Mississippi has reported 33 cases and one death, and Oklahoma has reported 40 cases and one death.
The United States is experiencing the biggest spike in West Nile virus since 2004, health officials reported.
Dr. Marc Fischer, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC's Arboviral Diseases Branch in Fort Collins, Colo., said a "seasonal outbreak occurs every year but so far this year the activity seems to be greater and a little earlier than in recent years."
It's difficult to pinpoint why virus activity is higher this year and why it is higher in certain regions of the country.
"That's impacted by a number of factors, environmental factors like weather, heat, precipitation, the birds that are around to amplify the vi
All rights reserved