West Nile Virus 'Exploding' in U.S.

CDC reports 47 states have now reported residents' contracting potentially deadly virus.
3:00 | 08/23/12

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Transcript for West Nile Virus 'Exploding' in U.S.
Now, to the latest on the nationwide outbreak of west nile virus, on track to be the worst in u.S. History. So far, it has hit 47 states. More than 1,000 people have been infected. At least 41 have died. Abc's clayton sandell is in houston, texas, the state that's been hardest hit. Good morning, clayton. Reporter: Good morning to you, robin. Well, the plane behind me landed just hours ago. It was on a midnight mission to kill mosquitos and hopefully slow a disease that across the country is in overdrive. Four-times the number of cases as usual. Overnight, an aerial attack. Pesticide-packing planes, pounding the central battlefield in what is quickly becoming an all-out war against the deadly west nile virus. This morning, the cdc says there is good reason for this fight. The disease is spreading further, faster and earlier in the season than it ever has. In fact, cases of the disease are growing exponentially. Just 1 month ago, only 29 reported. Now, over 1,100 in 47 states. At least 41 people have died. Many more developing severe fever, convulsions, even paralysis. Mosquitos that submit the disease, are thriving in the summer weather. And texas is getting hit harder. And nowhere is striking back harder. Pilots are taking to the air. 63,000 doused from above with pesticide, despite objections from some environmental groups. These pesticides are most toxic to young children, babies. Reporter: But the cdc and health officials in texas insist worries about the spray are overblown and pale in comparison to the disease. I've never had any complaints. No harm. Nobody's ever gotten sick from it. Reporter: As we mention ed, this has been the worst year -- on track to be the worst year for west nile. And the numbers could go up in the fall. Thank you, clayton. A lot of concern about west nile virus and the possible health effects from spraying pesticide. Let's bring in our medical editor, dr. Richard besser. Should there be a concern for people? You always want to be careful when pesticides are being sprayed. But these have been used for decades in communities. And they haven't seen health risks. I was talking to my friend lyle peterson who runs the west nile for cdc. They can't find pesticides in people. They break down that quickly. How about our pets? How about the environment? That's where you have to be careful. They don't just kill mosquitos. They can kill lady bugs, and high levels can kill fish. They spray at night, when bees are not out, which is important. They use very low levels. And they don't spray over open water. You still have to pay attention. Are there precautions you should take? The e.P.A. Oversees this. And they do recommend cautions. Pay attention to the media. If there's spraying going on, stay inside. Close your windows. Turn off your air conditioning for a couple hours while that's going on. You don't want kids running after trucks. I remember kids chasing the mosquito truck. Don't do that. You're going to be exposed to a higher concentration of the pesticides. If you're sensitive to chemicals or have breathing problems, stay inside when it's going on. Things to keep in mind. Race for the white house

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