California Confirms First Human West Nile Virus Deaths of 2017

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today three confirmed deaths in California due to West Nile virus (WNV). The deceased persons were residents of Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. CDPH is unable to provide additional patient details including demographic information and name of hospital providing care to protect confidentiality. 

As of September 1, CDPH has reported 87 human cases of WNV from 13 California counties this year. Additionally, 239 dead birds from 30 counties have tested positive for WNV in 2017, and 2,284 mosquito samples from 24 counties have also tested positive for WNV this year.

West Nile virus is influenced by many factors, including climate, the number and types of birds and mosquitoes in an area, and the level of WNV immunity in birds. 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 serious neurologic illnesses such as encephalitis or meningitis.

People 50 years of age and older and individuals with diabetes or hypertension have a higher chance of getting sick, and are more likely to develop complications.