California's Drought Could Increase Health Risks, Experts Say

The proliferation of West Nile virus is just one possible outcome.

The ongoing drought across much of California might have exacerbated cases, state health officials said, noting that areas with stagnating water become prime spots for mosquitoes to lay eggs.

A record number of birds were found to have the virus as well, with 60 birds testing positive for West Nile, health officials said.

“As birds and mosquitoes sought water, they came into closer contact and amplified the virus, particularly in urban areas," California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Karen Smith said in a statement. "The lack of water could have caused some sources of water to stagnate, making the water sources more attractive for mosquitoes to lay eggs."

Officials also said warmer temperatures might have led to an especially long mosquito season.

In addition to West Nile, the arid conditions could also mean increasing cases of Valley Fever in the state, health officials said.

"It’s so clearly related to soil and dust -- dust getting into the air ... then that’s quite plausible," he told ABC News.

Rates of Valley Fever infection steadily increased between 2001 and 2011, when reported numbers peaked at 5,182 cases before dropping off again, according to the state health department. In 2013, there were 3,298 reported cases of the disease. The increase in numbers has not officially been linked to drought conditions.

"There’s reason to think that it should apply also to California," he said.