Double digits in number of California West Nile virus cases

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Health officials are reporting more new cases of mosquito-borne West Nile virus in the Southland, a steep incline from numbers from last year.

Los Angeles County health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the county. The patient was hospitalized, but is now at home and expected to recover.

First identified in 2003, West Nile has plagued California ever since and public health officials say this year seems to be an especially problematic one.

There's been sharp increase in the number of birds and mosquitoes infected by the mosquito-borne virus — five new cases of dead birds infected with the virus have turned up in San Gabriel Valley cities recently.

That follows reports earlier this month of 10 infected mosquitoes and one dead bird in other areas of Los Angeles County.

Health officials are urging California residents to check their yards and gardens for any standing, stagnant water, which provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

They also suggest residents wear insect repellent when outside between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

Most people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes show no symptoms, but in extreme cases the disease can lead to paralysis and death. In the past decade, more than 3,000 Californians are known to have become infected by West Nile virus. Slightly more than a hundred of them dying from the infection.

To reach the California Department of Public Health, call 1-877-WNV-BIRD or go to www.westnile.ca.gov.

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