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CDC: West Nile cases rise 40 percent in 1 week

West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week and may rival the record years of 2002 and 2003, federal health officials said Wednesday.
So far this year, 1,590 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 66 deaths.

About half of the cases are serious illnesses, and the CDC considers those the best indicator of West Nile activity because many mild cases do not get reported and their symptoms may not even be recognized.

Typical symptoms are fever, headache and body aches, and most people get better on their own in a few days. Less than 1 percent develops neurological symptoms such as stiff necks and even coma and paralysis.

Based on reports of West Nile so far this year, "we think the numbers may come close" to those of 2002 and 2003, when nearly 3,000 severe illnesses and more than 260 deaths occurred each year, said the CDC's top expert on the disease, Dr. Lyle Petersen.
 
 

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