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Texas study: More West Nile cases in 2012 linked to mild winter

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

After declining over the previous five years, there was a resurgence in the number of mosquito-borne West Nile virus infections in 2012.

So what was the problem? A new study done in Texas says it was the warmer winter.

"Global warming, climate change may be having an impact because the warmer winters means that there are more mosquitoes in the following year," said Dr. Susan Rehm with the Cleveland Clinic.

Texas was hit the hardest, so researchers wanted to know why specifically. They discovered an increase in the number of days between December and February where the temperature did not fall below 28 degrees. The more days over 28 degrees, the more mosquitoes survive, and then the more West Nile is likely to surface.

Dr. Rehm said mild winter or not, there are things you should do to decrease your chances of being bitten.

"Wear long sleeves, long pants, if you're going to be outside for an extended period of time. Use mosquito repellant. Get rid of standing water in your area, and the classic thing, of course, are old tires, empty tires that hold a little bit of water," she explained.

For more information about West Nile Virus, visit www.cdc.gov/westnile.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

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