66 dead in USA as West Nile cases rise


34 people in Texas have died from West Nile disease in what experts are predicting will be the worst ever year in the USA for the virus.

In total, 66 people have died from the disease this year with the number of cases reaching almost 1590.

Nearly half of all infections occurred in Texas where 894 people have been infected, 34 have died.

“Those numbers are going to go up,” said Dr David Lakey, commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services.  Lakey has predicted 2012 will be the worst year ever and is expecting deaths to surpass the previous high of 40 in 2003.

Health officials do not yet know why there are more cases this year than in recent years.

Mosquitoes, which breed in small nutrient-rich pools of water, spread the virus and can thrive after heavy rainfall and flooding.