This year's outbreak of West Nile virus is the largest recorded in the U.S., CNN reports.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the findings today in a teleconference. As of August 21, the disease has claimed 41 lives and infected 1,118 people.
"The peak of West Nile virus epidemics usually occurs in mid-August, but it takes a couple of weeks for people to get sick, go to the doctor and get reported," CNN quoted Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Division as saying. "Thus we expect many more cases to occur."
On August 10, the NYC Department of Health reported that it found , Prospect Park and Park Slope. It has also been found in Windsor Terrace and parts of South Brooklyn.
So far only one person in New York City has been diagnosed with the virus, a man in Staten Island, who was diagnosed in July.
On Long Island, the Health Department has of West Nile virus in a Nassau County resident, a woman over age 70 who lives in the Town of Oyster Bay.
While the reason for the spike in cases has yet to be determined, Petersen said this summer's warm weather may have prompted more opportunities for humans to get infected.
Most of the cases have occurred in the South and West, particularly in the states of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma.
The disease struck down elderly woman in Michigan as reported on the .
The CDC offers this advice for avoiding the disease:
The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
- Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
- Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.