At least 19 people have died after contracting West Nile Virus this year as the
mosquito-borne disease that has no cure continues to sweep the US.
Officials in Los Angeles County confirmed that it has had its first death this year from
the bug, which can also cause paralysis and meningitis.
Almost all states have reported cases so far this year, while fatalities have been seen
across the country.
Donald Streets, 86, was confirmed as the latest victim on Friday. His son, Ramin, told
ABC15 he suspects his father contracted the disease when he was bitten while sitting
on his back porch in Maricopa County, Arizona
‘Oh it’s beautiful outside you should go out on your deck,’ Donald texted his son on
But, by the following Friday, he was getting seriously ill with shaking hands and
feeling very unsteady on his feet. He was taken to ER but died a few days later.
‘This was a two-week crash and it was a surprise. The family is in shock, I’m in shock,’
Ramin told the local TV station.
Three other people have already died in Maricopa County this year, with officials
warning the virus could still be a threat well into October.
Los Angeles County has also confirmed its first West Nile Virus death of the year
after an unidentified patient died from a brain infection related to the virus.
In Nebraska, which has seen two deaths, state officials have issued an alert, warning
that ‘the cases statewide have already exceeded the number of cases last year.’
In total 43 states in the US have reported cases in humans or animals and there have also been deaths in Colorado, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, New Jersey, Idaho, and South Dakota.
Scientists have said that climate change could make diseases such as West Nile virus
more widespread because of milder temperatures.
There is no cure but people can avoid infection by draining pools of standing water,
including from clogged gutters and wading pools.
In New York City, officials found evidence of West Nile in 1,000 pools of stagnant
water – a higher figure than that seen in 2018 for the entire mosquito season.
Senator Chuck Schumer told FOX5: ‘This is actually one of the worst mosquito
seasons that we have had in recent memory.
‘Even more concerning, these mosquitoes can spread the deadly West Nile virus.”
There have been cases of West Nile virus in all five of New York’s boroughs.
The virus was first discovered in Africa in 1937 and cases have been reported all over
Many who contract the virus do not get any symptoms at all and it can’t be spread
from human to human.
People aged over 50, and those with underlying health conditions, are most at risk of
developing severe disease as a result of infection.