The Korea Herald


West Nile virus kills 17 in Texas, sickens hundreds

By 윤민식

Published : Aug. 16, 2012 - 09:16

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

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 Texas Department of State Health Services said.

The county incorporating Dallas, the ninth-largest city in the United States, 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 said in a proclamation of emergency that took effect Wednesday.

The virus has claimed ten lives in the county so far, local and state health authorities said.

First discovered in Uganda in 1937, the virus is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes.

Severe symptoms of the virus 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 United States this year, including 26 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Texas tops the list in both total cases and fatalities.

In 2011, Texas saw a total of 27 cases and two deaths, the CDC said. Across the United States, 712 confirmed and probable cases and 43 fatalities were reported over that same 12-month period.

The worst year on record in Texas was 2003, with 40 deaths related to the West Nile virus, said Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Mann told AFP that the outbreak could be linked to a mild winter and rainy spring in the state. "It's really not clear at this point," she said.

In an effort to stem the number of new infections, Texas authorities have urged residents to use insect repellent before heading outdoors, remain inside at dusk and at dawn, dress in protective clothing and drain standing water that could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Last month, officials in New York City said the West Nile virus had been detected on Staten Island, one of the city's five boroughs. (AFP)

<관련 한글 기사>

죽음의 '모기바이러스', 벌써 17명 사망!

미국 텍사스주 댈러스에서 모기를 통해 감염돼 뇌염 증세를 일으키는 웨스트나일 바이러스에 따른 피해가 커지면서 비상사태가 선포됐다.

15일(현지시간) 영국 BBC방송 보도에 따르면 텍사스주에서는 올해 들어서만 17명이 바이러스에 감염된 후 숨졌고 미국 전 지역에서 700건에 이르는 감염 사례가 보고됐다. 이는 지난 2004년 이후 최고치다.

텍사스주는 이번 사태로 미국 내에서 가장 큰 피해를 입은 지역이다.

미국 내 총 42개 주에서 사람과 새ㆍ모기 등의 감염 사례가 확인됐는데 텍사스주, 미시시피주, 오클라호마주가 이중 80%를 차지했다.

마이클 롤링스 댈러스 시장은 "웨스트나일 바이러스가 광범위하게 확산되면서 사망자 및 중병 환자가 발생하고 있다"며 "이같은 사태가 당분간 계속될 것으로 보인다"고 밝혔다.

1937년 우간다에서 처음 발견된 웨스트 나일 바이러스는 감염된 조류의 피를 빨아들인 모기에 의해 사람들에게 옮겨진다.

발진과 두통 등의 증세를 야기하며 심한 경우 고열과 실명, 신체 마비로 이어지다 사망까지 불러올 수 있다.

텍사스주는 주민들에게 방호복 착용과 방충제 사용, 해질녘과 해뜰녘 외출 자제 등을 권고했으며 살충제 항공 살포를 실시하는 방안도 검토하고 있다.

뉴욕과 캘리포니아주 새크라멘토에서도 바이러스가 발견돼 최근 항공 살포가 이뤄졌다.