This summer has seen one of the largest outbreaks of West Nile Virus since the mosquito-borne illness first appeared in North America in 1999, officials from the Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.
Last week, the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District reported that a . It was the county’s first for 2012. So far, 14 dead birds in Contra Costa County have been found to carry the disease. There have been no reported cases of humans with West Nile Virus in Contra Costa or Alameda counties.
See West Nile Virus numbers for all of California on the state's website.
Across the country, there are 1,118 reported illnesses. A normal year sees only 300 such cases by mid-August, according to the Washington Post. Half of the illnesses reported this year are in Texas.
West Nile virus symptoms may include headache, fever, body aches, vomiting, nausea, swollen lymph glands, and skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
Approximately 80 percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms, although some 20 percent will develop West Nile fever.
Of those, less than 1 percent may develop a more severe form of illness with symptoms such as high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, paralysis and in extreme cases death. While there is no cure for West Nile virus, it is preventable.
Residents can help reduce the threat by eliminating unnecessary standing water in discarded tires, buckets, kiddie pools and stock backyard ponds or other permanent water features with mosquitofish. The fish are free and can be delivered or simply picked up at the District office. Residents are encouraged to report mosquito problems, neglected swimming pools or dead birds to the West Nile virus hotline at 1-877-968-2473 or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.