West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals—less than one percent—can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith announced the first confirmed death in California due to West Nile virus. The deceased person was a senior citizen in Nevada County.
“This death is a tragic reminder of how severe West Nile virus disease can be,” said Dr. Smith. “West Nile virus activity is more widespread in 2015 than in years past. Californians need to be vigilant in protecting themselves.”
West Nile virus is influenced by many factors such as climate, the number and types of birds and mosquitoes in an area, and the level of immunity in birds to West Nile virus. It is possible that the drought has contributed to West Nile virus amplification by reducing sources of water for birds and mosquitoes. As birds and mosquitoes seek water, they are coming into closer contact and amplifying the transmission of the virus.