The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that this year's west nile virus outbreak was the nation's largest ever, and suddenly it does seem pretty serious, if not downright scary. Through last week we'd been keeping an eye on the outbreak around Texas, but on Wednesday the CDC announced startling new nationwide figures, according to CNN: "As of August 21, 38 states had reported human infections. The cases reported to the CDC total 1,118, including 41 deaths."
That's a big jump from last week, when just 693 cases and 26 deaths were reported, according to USA Today. "Approximately 75 percent of the cases have been in five states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma, the CDC says." Meanwhile, The Associated Press' Mike Stobbe points out that "in an average year, fewer than 300 cases are reported by mid-August." CDC officials "think the mild winter, early spring and very hot summer have fostered breeding of mosquitoes that pick up the virus from birds they bite and then spread it to people," Stobbe reported. But even though this year is worse than others, it's good to remember not to lose one's head. Most mosquitos don't carry the disease, CNN reminds us, and most bites from infected mosquitos don't result in human infection. Just to be safe, you might want to brush up on the disease at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and try to remember your insect repellant and long pants and sleeves if you're worried about getting bitten.