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August 15th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

CDC's Dr. Beth Bell says US is headed for worst year on record for the West Nile virus

Texas is experiencing the worst outbreak of West Nile virus in nearly a decade, resulting in the deaths of 16 in the state and another six deaths in Louisiana. Ten of those deaths occurred in Dallas County, where local officials have declared a state of emergency.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control say the U.S. is headed for worst year on record, with almost 700 reported infections nationwide.

Dr. Beth Bell, a medical epidemiologist for Centers for Disease Control, says "this is a very unusual year. This is the more cases then we’ve ever seen by the second week of August since we’ve been tracking West Nile infection in the United States."

Dr. Bell went on to say she is unsure as to what this will mean for the rest of the season. “There’s all kinds of things that could happen that could mean that we’ll be fortunate and we won’t continue to see the rapid increase that we’ve been seeing so far. But that’s why it’s really so important for all of us to be tracking the spread of West Nile virus and mosquitoes and birds and people,” she says.

CNN'S chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta also weighs in describing symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus.

Filed under: Health • virus
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