Is West Nile Virus hype too?

West Nile virus is getting its moment in the sun today with news that the first case of the illness has been reported in Minnesota. Fourteen people have died since the virus was first discovered in the state in 2002, state health officials say.

But this would most likely fit the conventional definition of “overhyped.” Since H1N1 (swine flu) was “hyped,” as many say it was, anything less severe is also “hype”.

From April through early July, Minnesota has had 634 cases of H1N1. The state has had about 450 cases of West Nile since 2002. It had only 10 last year.

211 people nationwide have died from H1N1 since April. 44 died from West Nile in 2008.

Hyped? Maybe. But maybe the reason only 44 people died last year is because someone hyped the disease in 2002, when 284 people died from West Nile. The number has been steadily dropping since people became more aware of how to avoid it.

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