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3 dead from West Nile virus in California, officials say

A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus is seen at offices of the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health on April 26, 2007 in Hemet, California.
A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus is seen at offices of the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health on April 26, 2007 in Hemet, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

California's Department of Public Health has confirmed three deaths from the West Nile virus, the first this year.

This is the peak transmission period for the mosquito-borne disease, which doesn't pose a grave risk for most people but can afflict about 1 percent who contract it with serious neurologic illnesses.

The department said Friday the three people who died were residents of Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. In all, the department has recorded 87 human cases of the virus in 13 California counties this year.

The elderly are most susceptible to the virus, as are people with diabetes or high blood pressure.

Standard precautions against mosquitoes are the best ways to prevent infection.