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West Nile virus outbreak hits California’s Orange County

An outbreak of the West Nile virus in California’s Orange County has infected more than 90 people so far this year, seven times as many as were diagnosed in all of 2013, and public health experts say the region’s prolonged drought may be a factor.

Not only has the number of human infections reported in the Southern California county since January dwarfed the 12 cases documented for all of 2013, but the prevalence of West Nile in birds, which harbor the virus, and in the mosquitoes transmitting it has also spiked.

The 94 confirmed human cases in the county, three of them fatal, represent about half of the 180-plus documented statewide so far this year and nearly a quarter of the 400 cases reported nationally.