West Nile Update

This year is bringing record numbers of West Nile Virus cases and large numbers of human deaths. So far in 2012, 219 Deaths have been reported due to the virus. This is the second highest total since 2003 when West Nile exploded across North America shortly after its introduction. Why so many cases this year? A focus of the disease has been Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. The area around Dallas, Texas is one of the hardest hit. The area has seen warmer & wetter weather than usual. The warm weather means that mosquito and disease populations build sooner in the year. The wet weather means more habitat and favorable conditions for mosquitoes.

My Arm After a Visit from a Mosquito. Photo: jneal

As global warming produces warmer temperatures, we expect see the migration of tropical diseases and tropical disease vectors northward. Many areas of the Midwest are still awaiting the first killing frost to end mosquito season and stop West Nile transmission. If colder weather arrives late in the Southern US, the West Virus Transmission season could well extend into December. We are facing a record that no one wants to set.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Health, Invasive Species. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to West Nile Update

  1. Matt Miles says:

    Here in Northern California we have a mosquito abatement program that normally does a pretty good job of spraying and keeping the mosquitoes down. Last year, however there was about 12 cases of west nile in our county and several deaths. This year the numbers near tripled. I just hope the weather is on our side this year to keep this problem down. I have twins on the way and I don’t want to worry about taking them out.
    Pest Control Yuba City

  2. Pingback: West Nile Update II | Living With Insects Blog

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