Deaths from West Nile Virus Hit Record Last Year

May 13, 2013 - 4:36 PM

West Nile Virus

FILE -In this May 11, 2007 , file photo, Scott Sawlis sorts mosquitos according to species and gender before testing them at a the county mosquito lab in Dallas. Health officials say 2012 was the worst for West Nile deaths since the virus was reported in the country over a decade ago. The final tally reported Monday, May 13, 2013, was 286 deaths or two more than the previous record set in 2002. But there were far fewer illnesses overall, and fewer serious cases than in many previous years. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials say last year was the worst ever for West Nile virus deaths.

The final tally reported Monday was 286 deaths — or two more than the record set in 2002.

But there were far fewer illnesses overall, and fewer serious cases than in previous years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had predicted it would be a bad year because of weather conditions that promote breeding of the mosquitoes that spread the virus to people.

The CDC report Monday showed Texas had nearly a third of the serious cases, and about a third of the deaths.

West Nile virus was first diagnosed in Uganda in 1937, but no cases were reported in the U.S. until 1999 in New York. It gradually spread to the West Coast.