WELLNESS
10/17/2012 12:54 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2012

West Nile Outbreak: Cases Top 4,500, Making It The Second-Worst Year On Record

FILE - In a Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, dead mosquitos are lined up waiting to be sorted at the Dallas County mosquit
FILE - In a Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 file photo, dead mosquitos are lined up waiting to be sorted at the Dallas County mosquito lab in Dallas. Health officials say itᅡメs the worst year ever for West Nile in Texas, which has seen nearly half the countryᅡメs deaths from the virus this year. The Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner David Lakey said Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012 that at least 40 people have died from the virus in Texas. The state has recorded at least 495 cases of neuroinvasive West Nile, considered the most serious form of the illness because it affects the nervous system. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

By Marice Richter

DALLAS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The number of West Nile virus cases across the United States has topped 4,500, with another 282 cases reported last week, making 2012 the nation's second-worst year on record for the mosquito-borne disease, government figures showed on Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 4,531 cases have been reported this year, the highest number since the record outbreak of 2003, when 9,862 cases were reported.

Another 15 deaths from the disease were reported last week, bringing the total to 183, the CDC said.

Almost 70 percent of the cases have been reported in eight states: Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan and Oklahoma. More than one-third were in Texas, with Dallas-Fort Worth at the center of the outbreak.

Just over half of the cases reported to the CDC this year have been of the severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, which can lead to meningitis and encephalitis.

The milder form of the disease causes flu-like symptoms and is rarely lethal. (Editing by Paul Thomasch and Doina Chiacu)

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