West Nile infects Butte boy
A teenage boy is Butte County's first human case of West Nile virus confirmed this year, health officials said Thursday.
Meanwhile, the California Department of Health Services announced that an elderly Kings County man was the state's first person to die of the mosquito-borne disease this year.
The teen's case was one of three in Northern California announced Thursday by area public health officials.
They are the first new human cases confirmed in the North State this year, although Glenn County health officials have said a man who contracted the disease last year died of the virus in March.
To date, Yuba and Sutter counties have not reported any human cases.
The Butte County Public Health Department released few details about the boy, his identity or his condition. Officials said he was recovering from a "mild" case of the illness, which first arrived in Northern California in 2003.
In Sacramento County, two women were diagnosed with the disease: a 58-year-old from the county's northern area and an 18-year-old from the south.
State health officials said late last month they expected West Nile occurrences to gain momentum after the July 4 weekend, with hot summer temperatures providing perfect weather for mosquitoes.
So far, they were right. By the end of June, only two human cases of the illness were confirmed in the entire state.
Thursday, that number was up to 17.
West Nile virus is a blood-borne disease that causes swelling of the brain.
Mosquitoes that breed in wet, marshy environments or pools of standing water spread the illness primarily to birds but also to horses and humans.
Only about 20 percent of infected people experience West Nile's flu-like symptoms, and the disease is rarely fatal to humans.
In March, Daniel Merkes, a 53-year-old landscaper from a rural community near Orland, died of the virus. His family said he contracted it in September 2004. Glenn County officials said the state confirmed the next spring that he died of the illness.
Merkes was a diabetic and susceptible to illness due to the effects of several organ transplants.
Other counties reporting human cases of the disease this year include Fresno, Kern, Kings, Merced, Riverside, San Bernardino and Tulare.
Last year, 830 people statewide were infected with the disease.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Thigpen can be reached at 749-4713. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.