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West Nile emergency declared in 3 counties

August 03, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Thursday in three California counties hit hard by the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which has killed four this year and appears to be spreading rapidly.

The emergency declaration applies to Kern, Colusa and San Joaquin counties, and will provide up to $1.35 million to help combat the spread of the virus.

West Nile is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, and so far this year has infected three times as many people as in the same period in 2006, Schwarzenegger said.

The disease's epicenter thus far is Kern County, which has logged two-thirds of the state's 56 West Nile cases this year, including an 85-year-old Shafter man and a 96-year-old Bakersfield woman who died last month.

Health officials announced the state's third and fourth fatalities this week: two elderly residents of San Joaquin and Colusa counties.

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