An elderly woman in Kern County is the first person to die from West Nile Virus this year in California. She was 88 years old, but her name is not being released at this time.
So far in 2012, ten human cases in five counties, including one in San Joaquin County, have been reported to the California Department of Public Health. At this time last year, there were only seven human cases and no reported deaths.
Increased West Nile Virus activity is being seen in California and around the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they have more cases reported so far this year than any of the previous seven years.
People get West Nile Virus after being bit by an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness is low for most people, however the very young and those 50 and older could have serious reactions.
The California Department of Public Health says hikers and campers are usually good about protecting themselves from mosquitoes, but then forget when they are in their own backyards.
If anyone sees a dead bird or squirrel and want to report it for West Nile Virus testing, call 1-877-WNV-BIRD.