Health

In California, West Nile deaths highest in nearly a decade

Cases of West Nile - which is spread by mosquito bites - have spiked this year.
Cases of West Nile - which is spread by mosquito bites - have spiked this year.
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While much of the nation has been focused on Ebola recently, hundreds of Californians have been contracting another virus: West Nile. 

There have been 752 cases of West Nile Virus reported in California so far this year. That's more than three times the average number of annual cases over the past five years.

More than half of 2014's cases have come from Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to state data.

Most people who are infected with West Nile don't develop any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one in five people will develop a fever, with other symptoms like headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.

Typically, less than 1 percent of people with West Nile will develop a serious neurologic illness, and about 10 percent of them will die, according to the CDC.

But California has recorded 27 West Nile-related deaths so far this year - about 3.5 percent of all cases. The state hasn't seen that many fatalities from the virus since 2004, when 29 people died of the disease.

In the past five years, West Nile activity appeared to taper off by November. But in the past week, the state reported 19 new cases of the disease.

To protect yourself, stay inside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most prevalent. If you're outside, wear bug repellent. And get rid of standing water in your garden.