Flu? Malaria? Disease forecasters look to the sky – WSJ.comPosted: January 3, 2013
Some diseases are hard to forecast, such as West Nile virus. Last year, the U.S. suffered one of its worst years since the virus arrived in 1999. There were more than 2,600 serious illnesses and nearly 240 deaths.
Officials said the mild winter, early spring and very hot summer helped spur mosquito breeding and the spread of the virus. But the danger wasn’t spread uniformly. In Texas, the Dallas area was particularly hard-hit, while other places, including some with similar weather patterns and the same type of mosquitoes, were not as affected.
“Why Dallas, and not areas with similar ecological conditions? We don’t really know,” said Roger Nasci of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is chief of the CDC branch that tracks insect-borne viruses.