The US state of Texas is battling an outbreak of the West Nile virus, with 17 deaths being blamed on the mosquito-borne disease, authorities said Wednesday.
Throughout the state, 381 people have been sickened since the start of the year, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Texas is on track to have the most cases of West Nile illness since the disease first emerged in the state in 2002,” it said in a statement.
The county incorporating Dallas, the ninth-largest city in the United States, has been the hardest hit, prompting the mayor to declare a local state of disaster.
“The City of Dallas is experiencing a widespread outbreak of mosquito-borne West Nile virus and has caused and appears likely to continue to cause widespread and severe illness and loss of life,” Mayor Michael Rawlings said in the proclamation of emergency that takes effect Wednesday.
The virus has claimed ten lives in the county so far, local health authorities said. State officials put the toll at nine.
First discovered in Uganda in 1937, the virus is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes.
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