Health officials have confirmed at least 576 cases of West Nile virus, including two fatal cases, in California as of Friday, September 7. According to local sources, the two deaths were reported in Glenn and Yuba counties. Officials have advised residents in California to take precautions against mosquitoes.
West Nile virus is a disease most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes. The majority of infected people exhibit no symptoms, but it is estimated that 20 percent of infected people exhibit symptoms of West Nile fever and 1 percent develop severe neurological infections such as encephalitis and meningitis, certain effects of which can be permanent. The Center for Disease Control notes that people over 50 have an increased risk of getting severe illness from the West Nile virus.
Travelers in California are advised to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites - e.g. by wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, and sleeping in an air conditioned room - and to eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds in and around their residences (small pockets of fresh water, such as rain water that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, etc.). Individuals exhibiting symptoms of serious infection should seek medical attention immediately.