This Thanksgiving travel season could be wilder than last year’s, although all that considering means you should probably take time to bring some bug spray to your table this year. This time around, we could face the second huge outbreak of West Nile virus.
Just four months after the start of the year, the virus that killed at least 38 of the country’s 271 cases in 2017 has already popped up. Last week in New York City, there were six confirmed cases of the virus, two more than the same week last year. That led the World Health Organization’s Greater New York-Philadelphia Zone, with 1.25 million residents, to open a post office for mosquito trapping. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making plans to issue its own West Nile alert, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to have his State Department of Health test and test again thousands of mosquitoes throughout New York City.
But it’s far from clear that, as Ms. Mellon, an infectious diseases specialist at the Duke Infectious Diseases Clinic in Durham, N.C., tells CNN, “Any other year, this would be a concern.”
Dr. Sheryl Costello, the director of infectious diseases at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, tells The New York Times that while there are no epidemics today, she’s worried West Nile is still a factor in the bacterial meningitis, which kills 50 percent of the people who contract it.
“This disease is still out there,” Dr. Costello told the Times. “The risk remains.”
Experts anticipate an increase in cases throughout the year, especially as temperatures in some areas warm, or so researchers at the Environmental Protection Agency predict. Researchers predict a 50 percent increase in mosquitoes in the Northeast in the fall, putting them more likely to breed in more standing water than ever.