Fewer West Nile Cases Reported This Year
There have been fewer human cases of West Nile virus reported this year than at this time last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Department of Health Services, the Los Angeles Times reports. To date, 14 cases of the virus have been reported statewide, compared with 24 cases in mid-July 2004, DHS reported.
The virus is transmitted to humans and other animals through mosquitoes, which become carriers after biting infected birds. Most people who become infected do not get sick, although some might exhibit flu-like symptoms. The virus can lead to meningitis and encephalitis, which can result in death, the Times reports.
There have been no human deaths from West Nile so far this year, the data show. By comparison, the first human death attributed to the disease last year was reported on July 22. The threat of human infection is generally highest in August because hot weather increases mosquito activity, DHS officials said. Cool temperatures this spring and earlier this summer might have delayed the onset of this year's mosquito season, experts said (Gresko, Los Angeles Times, 7/20).