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TENTH PERSON IN STATE DIES OF W. NILE VIRUS.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

A 60-year-old Riverside woman became the 10th Californian to die from West Nile virus, health officials reported Friday, as the Golden State surpassed Arizona as the state with the highest number of deaths and the most human cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

Human cases are rapidly increasing in California, where 343 people have been diagnosed, compared with 249 cases reported just a week ago, the state Department of Health Services said.

Arizona, the only state where authorities have declared an epidemic because of the virus, reported 309 cases as of Friday. That state is due to update its numbers Monday, but the outbreak appears to be slowing there, officials said.

Of the 327 Californians with ill effects of the disease, 124 suffered flulike symptoms, and 121 people suffered the more serious brain fever called West Nile neuroinvasive disease. The symptoms of the 82 others were unknown.

The median age of recorded West Nile virus cases is 51 years old. The elderly and those with existing health problems are most susceptible to becoming seriously ill.

At 119 cases, San Bernardino County has the highest number of reported illnesses. Los Angeles County has 115 confirmed virus cases, officials said.

Health officials continue to warn people to avoid being outside and uncovered during peak mosquito times in the morning and evening. Sweep away or dump any standing, stagnant water to avoid promoting mosquito growth.

Locally, mosquito control officials have primarily targeted mosquito larvae growing in water, with the exception of limited fogging at night to kill adult mosquitoes in Harbor Regional Park in San Pedro and in the vegetation along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo. But the fogging has not moved beyond the park nor has there been any fogging in neighborhoods.

``Adulticiding is a last resort option and not typically what we do here in an urban environment,'' said Jack Hazelrigg, general manager of the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District. ``A lot of people have gotten the idea from TV and news reports that we are going to spray and that we have been spraying. That's not true.''

West Nile virus, which first appeared in New York in 1999 and has since spread to much of the country, has infected at least 843 people and killed 20, according to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus, which appeared in California for the first time last year, infected 9,862 people last year and caused 264 deaths, the CDC said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Aug 28, 2004
Words:425
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