The California Department of Public Health announced Monday the first two reported fatalities of 2011 from West Nile Virus. The victims were a 37-year-old man and an 86-year-old man, both from Kern County. Eighty-eight human cases of WNV from 18 California counties have been reported this year; there have been no human or animal cases reported in Marin County. The virus is usually transmitted to humans and animals through mosquito bites, and the risk of contracting serious illness is low, with less than one percent of people experiencing neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. Individuals over 50 years of age and those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness. Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the CDPH website (www.cdph.ca.gov) or by calling (877) WNV-BIRD (968.2473).