Relative Risk Level of West Nile Virus

The world seems to love panicking over exciting dangers. Just how bad is West Nile Virus REALLY - when compared with other dangers we face every day?

The first reported cases of West Nile Virus in the US began in 1999. In 2003, there were 264 deaths from West Nile Virus. Compare that to these figures for deaths in the US that I found. These numbers are either average yearly figures or single-year figures where possible:

68 people were killed by tornadoes (avg)
73 people are struck by lightning (avg)
363 people were killed by lightning (1998)
488 people electrocuted themselves (1998)
3,515 people choked to death (1998)
16,274 people accidentially fell to their deaths (1998)
43,501 people died in motor vehicle accidents (1998)
435,000 people died from tobacco (2000)
400,000 people died from obesity and lack of exercise (2000)

As with many things in life, we humans love to panic over the unknown, exciting dangers (asteroids, space aliens, etc) rather than focus on taking steps to handle real issues. If you're a birder and you are overweight or smoke, you have FAR more serious issues in your life than a few skeeters!

Yes, put on insect repellent. But if you're really concerned about your health, take a hard look at the things in your life that ARE likely to kill you.

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