THURSDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Authorities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area will begin aerial spraying of insecticides as early as Thursday night to combat the nation's worst outbreak of West Nile virus this year.
Dallas County has counted 217 cases of the potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease so far while Texas overall has seen 381 cases, 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.
With 10 deaths reported so far, Dallas County officials have declared an emergency. The north Texas region -- which includes Dallas and Fort Worth -- has reported 15 deaths and more than 500 cases, the NBC News affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth reported Thursday.
The mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, declared a state of emergency on Wednesday before approving the first aerial spraying of insecticides in the city in nearly five decades.
Louisiana and Mississippi have also been hit hard by West Nile virus. Louisiana health officials have reported at least 68 cases and six deaths, while authorities in Mississippi have reported at least 59 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention'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.
"That's impacted by a number of factors, environmental factors like weather, heat, precipitation, the birds that are around to amplify
All rights reserved