California Sees Record West Nile Virus Cases in 2014

The recent report by the California Department of Public Health clearly indicates that the West Nile Virus is reaching greater proportion with every passing year. The Press Release of the CDPH on this issue states:

California had the second-highest number of human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in 2014 since the virus first invaded California in 2003. In 2014, California recorded 801 cases of the potentially fatal disease. In 2005, CDPH detected 880 cases of WNV.The highest number of cases was in Orange County (263 cases) and the highest incidence occurred in Glenn County (35.3 cases per 100,000 population).

The level of WNV activity last year broke several records including:

  • Five-hundred-sixty-one cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND), the more serious neurological form of the disease often resulting in encephalitis or meningitis, were detected.
  • The number of fatal WNV cases, 31, exceeded all previous years.
  • The proportion of mosquitoes infected with WNV was the highest level ever detected in California (mosquito infection rate = 6.0; epidemic conditions equate with 5.0).
  • The prevalence of WNV infection in tested dead birds, 60 percent, was the highest ever detected in California.


CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds:” 

  1. DEET- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear protective clothing and repellent if you are outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including in flower pots, old car tires and buckets. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency.

A brief summary of the outbreak statistics from 2003:

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Published by

Pranab Chatterjee

Skeptic Oslerphile, Scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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