Health Policy

Poisonous Virus Spreads Panic in US

The southwestern US state of Texas is battling an outbreak of the West Nile virus, with 17 deaths blamed on the mosquito-borne disease.

Throughout the state 465 people have been sickened since the start of the year, putting it on track to have the most cases since the disease first emerged a decade ago.

The county incorporating Dallas, the ninth-largest city in the US, has been the hardest hit, prompting the mayor to declare a local state of disaster. “The city of Dallas is experiencing a widespread outbreak of mosquito-borne West Nile virus that has caused, and appears likely to continue to cause, widespread and severe illness and loss of life,” Mayor Michael Rawlings.

The virus has claimed ten lives in the county so far, authorities said. First discovered in Uganda in 1937, the virus is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes. Severe symptoms include high fever, vision loss and paralysis, while milder symptoms range from headaches to skin rashes.

At least 693 cases ” both confirmed and probable ” of the virus have been reported in the US this year, including 26 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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