California Could Be Epicenter of West Coast Outbreak of West Nile in 2004, CDC Says
The West Coast likely will be hit hard by West Nile virus in 2004, and California is "the next likely place for large numbers of human cases," Dr. Lyle Petersen, acting director of vector-borne diseases for the CDC, said Wednesday, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 10/3). Speaking at the University of California-Berkeley, Petersen predicted that the Imperial Valley in Southern California likely will be most affected by the potential outbreak (New York Post, 10/3). He based his predictions on the fact that California is home to a large population of mosquitoes and that the virus has been detected in both mosquitoes and chickens this year. State health officials, who were "a bit taken aback" by Petersen's comments and the "intense media attention that followed," emphasized that California is "better prepared than most to contain the deadly disease," according to the Mercury News. Vicki Kramer, chief of vector-borne diseases at the Department of Health Services, said she is optimistic that the state will be able to avoid a widespread outbreak of human cases of West Nile virus, in part because most Californians live in areas where government agencies help control disease-carrying pests. Petersen in the past has said that the CDC will give more money to California to aid virus surveillance and increase public education efforts (San Jose Mercury News, 10/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.