West Nile Virus Outbreak Has Reached Record Highs and Become Worst Ever

West Nile Virus

When convenience stores and pharmacies see products selling faster than they can put them out on the shelves, it is usually a good thing as profits will increase. However, the reason a particular product, OFF! Insect repellent, is so popular has raised concerns of people’s safety.

Where the aroma in Dallas used to have the smell of football or the scent of chicken-fried bacon in the air, it now has the smell of sweetly pungent odor of spray-on mosquito repellent. That is because numerous cases of the West Nile virus has been reported in the United States and the epicenter seems to be in the Dallas County.

Dougherty’s Pharmacy, located in the upscale neighborhood on Preston Hollow, sells the popular mosquito repellent OFF! Spray, that is, they had 88 bottles but are down to their last bottle. This is one of the many stores in Dallas County that has seen this product in such high demand because of the alarming number of cases of the West Nile virus being reported.

Recently, state health officials have confirmed 640 people have been infected with the virus. Sadly, 23 of those reported have died from the virus. Dallas County has reported ten deaths and more than 200 others have been infected, which is the highest number of West Nile-related infection and deaths of any county in the U.S. Also, officials are currently looking into three additional deaths in the state that they feel are somehow linked to the disease, including one that is in Dallas County.

The 1118 cases reported so far in 2012 makes this the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases ever reported to the CDC through the third week in August. This goes as far back as when the first case of West Nile virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999. About 75% of the cases being reported are focused on five states: Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Dakota, Louisiana and Texas. Almost half of all of the cases have been reported from the state of Texas.

West Nile Outbreak

Carol Reed, a longtime political consultant whom D Magazine once dubbed the No.1 Dallas insider, said, “OFF! is the new Chanel No. 5 around here. I now put on insect repellent the same way I do sunblock. But we are Texans, so we fight something every summer.”

The mayor of Dallas County has responded by declaring a state of emergency as low-flying planes participated in a four-day aerial assault over the entire city. The planes dropped pesticide in the hopes of reducing the adult mosquito population and slow-moving trucks have sprayed on the ground in various neighborhoods.

Local leaders are supporting the “4 Ds” which are: dress (wear long sleeves and pants), drain (remove standing water), DEET (a powerful ingredient in many insect repellents) and duck/dawn (as in avoid going out at those times, when mosquitoes are most active).
Despite the warnings, many are still going out and sitting outside at local café’s, wearing shorts and short sleeved shirts. Others continue doing daily rituals, such as jogging or walking along the popular Katy Trail.

Josh Tucker is one of these individuals who continue to jog without using any bug spray. “I could care less,” a financial analyst for a real estate company and was deep into his three-mile plus jog. “For the most part, I think it’s overblown.” He, and others are not panicked,  because the average age of those who have died is 80. The youngest was 43 and the oldest was 91, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Still there are many who have been infected or know someone that has been infected with the virus and that is making people extremely nervous. Roy W. Bailey, who is the chief executive for a private equity firm in Preston Hollow, talked about his experience while getting his haircut last week. “My barber has two customers who have died. That really just slaps you in the face. This is real. This is not something that people are just blowing off.”

A woman named Katharyn DeVille, age 42, also is taking the warnings seriously as she ended up spending eight days in the hospital after getting bitten by a mosquito. It was on July 30th when she felt ill with flu-like symptoms. When her fever climbed up and started to get the chills, she eventually ended up in the emergency room for treatment. The doctor told her not to worry because she did not look like she had the West Nile virus and blood tests she took to detect the virus was negative.

However, no one knew what was wrong with her and she was progressively getting worse. By August 8th, she had broken out in a rash and was getting severe headaches that she said, “It was like an ax in my head.” She added that “I was miserable. I have migraines, and this was worse.”

The next day, she went to the emergency room at Methodist Dallas Medical Center for treatment. She was diagnosed with West Nile and other complications. “Oddly, I was kind of relieved,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “A, it had a name. And B, I knew I wasn’t contagious to any of my family members, and that was really important to me.”

As a result, she spent a month in the hospital where it was like losing a month of her life as she had to celebrate her birthday in the hospital and missed out on her daughter’s first day of school. Also, her lifestyle has changed as she does not stay out as much in her backyard and does worry that people are not taking the warnings as seriously as they should.

People, she feels, are looking at this with the attitude of ‘It wouldn’t happen to me.’ She also said, “I think that if we’re all cavalier like that, when people around us are getting sick, if you don’t at least get a can of OFF! and keep it handy, just give yourself that chance not to get sick. Because, believe me, you don’t want this.” On Thursday evening, with her 8 year-old daughter at her side, she relaxed at home on her sofa. She made sure her phone was at arm’s reach as well as a bottle of mosquito repellent.

Outbreak of West Nile virus is on track to become worst ever

The latest outbreak is set to become the worst ever in US history. Almost half of the reported cases have occurred in the state of Texas. Dallas county has responded by launching an extensive West Nile education program campaign.

West Nile Virus outbreak continues to grow in the U.S.

The number of West Nile Virus cases in the U.S. nearly doubled in just a week across a broad stretch of America. The death toll has reached 41 in total. Most cases are in the southern part of the country, but nearly half are in Texas alone.

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