West Nile Virus Afflicts 181 Californians, Public Health Officials Say
More than 180 Individuals in California have contracted West Nile virus this year, likely driven by a record number of mosquitos carrying the disease, state Department of Public Health officials said Wednesday, NBC Bay Area reports.
Mosquitos transmit the illness to humans after biting infected birds.
Details of Outbreak
So far, 181 cases of the illness have been reported across the state this year, including 52 cases reported last week (NBC Bay Area, 9/3). At the same time last year, 101 cases of the disease had been reported.
Eight individuals in the state have died after contracting the virus this year, compared with six deaths at this time last year.
Thirty-six of the state's 58 counties have reported cases of the virus (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/3).
Reasons for Increase in Cases
DPH Director Ron Chapman in a release said the rate of mosquitos carrying West Nile virus is "at the highest level ever detected in California" (DPH release, 9/3).
Vicki Kramer, chief of vector-borne diseases at DPH, said the high rate of infections could be related to a drought that the state experienced this year. She said, "There is less standing water available for both birds and mosquitos, and birds and mosquitos are coming into closer contact as they seek out the remaining water" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/3).
Chapman added, "We expect to see more people become infected as this is the time of year when the risk of infection is the highest" (NBC Bay Area, 9/3).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.