Arizona has most West Nile deaths in nation, CDC says

Sixteen of the 35 West Nile virus deaths reported in 2019 have been in Arizona, the CDC reports. 

Fifteen of Arizona's deaths occurred in Maricopa County, officials report.

"Maricopa County seems to be the West Nile virus hot spot this season, and we honestly don't know why," Rebecca Sunenshine, MD, the county health department's medical director for disease control, told The Arizona Republic. "It is by far the most we've seen in the last decade."

This year, 162 of the nation's 681 confirmed West Nile cases have been in Arizona.

Officials are studying bird and mosquitos, rainfall patterns and ecology to determine the cause of the virus' increase.

West Nile virus spreads to humans from infected mosquitoes, according to the CDC. Only about 20 percent of people experience symptoms such as fever, headaches, body aches, vomiting or a rash. About 1 in 150 people with West Nile virus develop serious illness, such as inflammation of the brain or spinal cord.

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