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West Nile Virus Looms Large In San Diego

A mosquito bites a man's arm in this undated photograph.
San Diego County Communications Office
A mosquito bites a man's arm in this undated photograph.

West Nile Virus Looms Large In San Diego
While Zika has prompted widespread concern, West Nile virus poses a more imminent threat in the county.

While the specter of the Zika virus prompts widespread concern,West Nile virus poses a more imminent threat in San Diego County.

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County vector control staff has identified 79 mosquito pools infected with the virus so far this year, compared to a total 49 contaminated pools discovered in 2015.

Chris Conlan, supervising vector ecologist with the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, said more than 200 dead birds have also tested positive for West Nile virus.

“You don’t get 200 positive birds in the last few months for nothing," Conlan said. "I mean, that just goes to show you, that it’s pretty active in our environment. And that means that anyone who’s getting bitten by mosquitoes is potentially at risk for contracting that illness.”

Only one human case of West Nile virus has been discovered in San Diego County so far in 2016, but Conlan said the peak season is just getting underway.

"Typically, our most active months start in August and go through the beginning of October," he said. "So, we’re just going to have to see how things shake out.”

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Most people who contract West Nile virus don’t get sick. But six San Diegans died from the virus in 2015.

Statewide, the virus claimed 53 lives last year. That's the highest death toll since California began tracking the disease in 2003.