By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

According to West Nile virus (WNV) data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday, Arizona has reported 97 total (77 neuroinvasive and 20 non-neuroinvasive) human WNV cases to date, the most in the country (20 percent of the total).

Maricopa County/ David Benbennick

The state has also recorded four deaths due to the mosquito-borne viral disease.

The vast majority of the WNV cases are reported from Maricopa County, in the south-central part and the state’s most populous county and home to Phoenix.

According to county health officials, through September 16, 90 human WNV cases were reported, including 4 deaths.

This compares to the same period in 2020 when they reported three cases and one fatality.

The Arizona Department of Health, in a more updated report Tuesday says there has been 132 total cases (88 confirmed/44 probable) with Maricopa County recording 109 total cases. They also report a 5th death.

West Nile virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Although it can cause severe disease, only about 1 in 5 of those infected will develop any symptoms at all. Those who do develop symptoms usually experience a flu-like illness including fever, headache, body aches and muscle weakness.

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Rarely, about 1 in 150 people infected can develop encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or of the spinal cord). This more severe form of the disease can present with headache, neck stiffness, vision loss, paralysis and other neurologic symptoms. These severe cases can lead to very prolonged illness, permanent paralysis or death.

Those who are over 60 years old, have underlying medical conditions or have depressed immune systems are at higher risk for the more severe form of West Nile virus.

The CDC reports Tuesday (which is lagging), 479 total WNV cases and 21 deaths nationwide.