West Nile Virus Could Hit California Hard

Expert predicts surge of cases in state this summer

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WEDNESDAY, March 31, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- California is likely to experience many more cases of West Nile virus this year, predicts University of California, Davis, entomologist John D. Edman, director of the university's Center for Vectorborne Diseases.

He expects West Nile to erupt in Southern California this summer and spread to northern areas of the state. Edman notes that, despite efforts at control, there's a large mosquito population in California.

The first in-state West Nile virus infections of humans in California were confirmed last year. Those three cases were in the Los Angeles area.

"If what's happened in other places is indicative, we'll see (West Nile) first reappear in Southern California. And I think it'll make it over the Tehachapis this year. If this happens, we'll likely have a lot more human cases," Edman says.

The Tehachapis Mountains form a natural barrier between Southern California and the rest of the state. Migrating crows and other birds will likely carry the virus over that range, Edman says.

He described efforts to track and contain the West Nile virus in North America during a presentation March 31 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about West Nile virus.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, March 31, 2004

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