California Records First West Nile Deaths of 2011

The two victims were a 37-year-old man and an 86-year-old man, both from Kern County. The state's latest update shows 93 human cases this year in 18 counties.

The first reported West Nile virus deaths of 2011 in California were a 37-year-old man and an 86-year-old man, both from Kern County, Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, announced Oct. 3 in Sacramento. There have been 93 human cases reported in 18 California counties in 2011, approaching the state's 2010 totals of 111 cases and six deaths.

Only Arizona, with 15 WNV deaths, and Texas, with six, had as many in 2010 as California, according to CDC's final tally of 2010 human cases reported to it. That account listed 1,021 cases and 57 fatalities. For 2011, as of Oct. 4, CDC had received reports of 432 cases and 23 deaths nationwide. California has recorded more WNV deaths than any other state twice during the past five years, according to CDC data.

"These unfortunate deaths remind us of the potential danger from mosquito bites and West Nile virus," said Chapman, who reminded state residents that the most effective way to prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus is to remember the Four Ds:

  • DEET –- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  • DRESS -– Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure to mosquito bites.
  • DAWN AND DUSK -– Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  • DRAIN -– Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish (available from your local mosquito and vector control agency) or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.

The state's West Nile virus website includes the latest information on WNV activity in California, including reports of dead birds, dead tree squirrels, sentinel chickens, and positive mosquito samples.

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