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CDC warns travelers of West Nile virus outbreak in the U.S.

2012/08/16 20:22:47

Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday warned travelers going to the United States about the West Nile virus, which has already taken 26 lives this year in the U.S.

As of Tuesday, 693 West Nile virus cases have been reported across the U.S. so far this year, according to a CDC statement.

Most of the cases were reported in middle or southern states, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw said.

Texas, the second-largest U.S. state, is experiencing the most serious outbreak of the virus since 2003, due to a combination of high temperatures and frequent rainfall, he added.

In the 2003 outbreak, 9,862 cases were reported and 264 people died across the U.S.

Texas authorities have been spraying insect repellent in certain areas of the state to prevent a wider outbreak of the virus, which is carried by birds and spread to humans via mosquitoes, Chou said.

The deputy director-general noted that the West Nile virus -- first discovered in Uganda in 1937 -- causes a fever that is a notifiable communicable disease in Taiwan and travelers entering the country showing possible symptoms should go to the doctor immediately.

Although most individuals bitten by virus-carrying mosquitoes do not show symptoms, 20 percent may experience symptoms of fever such as headaches, vomiting and skin rashes.

(By Nancy Liu)