By Ian Schwartz

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Public officials are warning California’s drought isn’t slowing the spread of the West Nile Virus in the Sacramento region, and the disease could be even more severe this year.

The idea of less rain causing the spread of a disease seemingly dependent on water for mosquitoes to breed in sounds counterintuitive.

Luis Rodriguez with Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito Control says since the drought took hold in 2012, the state has seen West Nile cases in people triple with nearly 800 in 2014. The last time numbers were this high was back in 2005.

“And because the drought is still going on, we are anticipating an intense West Nile Virus year,” he said.

So how can the drought increase the spread of West Nile Virus?

Birds that carry the disease go in search of new sources of water, as there is less water for them in rural areas. Those birds are bitten by mosquitoes, who then take it to humans.

It’s too early to tell if there will be more cases this year, but it’s best to go about your usual anti-mosquito plans.

Mosquito control says the drought also helped spread the disease another way—people were collecting water for their plans to save water in open barrels and tubs. Those made for easy mosquito breeding grounds.

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