As the West Nile virus season takes off, health authorities are looking into West Nile virus occurrence across the state of California.
In 2014, 31 residents of the Golden State died from West Nile infection in one of the worst outbreaks ever recorded. Another 800 were reported to have been infected.
As California is battling drought, the water sources are diminishing, bringing more birds and mosquitoes together and increasing the risk of infection with the mosquito-borne virus. More data collected supports the theory and is raising alarm signals across the state.
For 2015, no residents of California were reported to have been infected with the West Nile virus. Yet, as the drought drags on, the West Nile virus has been reported to have infected birds across 31 counties in the state. At the same time in 2014, only 25 counties reported birds being infected.
Fenyong Liu, UC Berkeley School of Public Health professor stated:
“There will be a lot of infections and people are going to be exposed to mosquitoes”.
The statement is supported by reports indicating that 348 mosquito samples and 152 dead bird samples tested positive in 2015. Comparatively, in 2014, 330 mosquito samples and 393 coming from dead birds had tested positive during the same period.
The counties with the highest incidence of the West Nile virus so far are Santa Clara, Alameda, Solano, Marin, Sonoma, and San Mateo.
For people who are infected with the West Nile virus, symptoms appear for 1 in 5. These include fever, headaches, rashes, body pain, diarrhea as well as vomiting, warns the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet, there are the unfortunate 1 percent who are at risk of developing meningitis or encephalitis that lead to serious brain damage. 10 percent of patients in this category do not survive.
Drought and the diminishing of water sources are a real concern to California health authorities that fear the spread of the West nile virus due to heat.
Erika Castillo of the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District stated:
“The weather has been quite cool up until recently, and now that the weather is getting warmer we might see some more activity”.
Another account coming from clinical professor John Swartzberg of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health states that it might be early to make accurate calculations as the West Nile season usually peaks in July and lasts until September.
Nonetheless, there is no question that hot weather increases the spread of the West Nile virus across California.
Photo Credits medimoon.com