This summer's West Nile epidemic was the worst ever recorded in North America, exceeding in severity a 1975 outbreak of the similar disease, St. Louis encephalitis. As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 3,391 cases of West Nile virus had been reported by state and local health departments, and 188 people have died. By comparison, in the 1975 outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis, 1,967 cases were reported to the CDC. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, CDC epidemiologist Roy Campbell said 2,000 of the about 3,400 West Nile cases reported were the more severe meningoencephalitis form. The remainder involved milder West Nile fever or had not been clinically categorized. Campbell said the death count from West Nile is likely to increase this year because of a reporting lag and patients who die later from complications of the disease. -- by Julie Piotrowski
This summer's West Nile outbreak worst yet
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