A dead bird, five mosquito samples, and three sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) in Placer County, marking the first time in 2007 that the virus has been found in the County. The bird was found north of Auburn; the mosquito samples and sentinel chickens have come from the rural agricultural areas of western Placer County.
To date this year, Placer County residents have reported 504 dead birds in 2007, including 31 in the last week. One-hundred-eleven (111) of these birds have been collected by Placer County Animal Services or Roseville Animal Control and submitted to the State laboratory for WNV testing.
“Finding a wild dead bird that tests positive for West Nile virus is not only a reinforcement for people to take simple precautions to limit their exposure to mosquitoes, but it also helps the District “hone” in on a particular area for intensified monitoring and control efforts,” said Mitchell Bernstein, MPA, District Manager of the Placer Mosquito and Vector District.
Most people who get West Nile virus from infected mosquitoes won't become ill. But about 20 percent may experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms which may be prolonged. About one in 150 people will become very ill. People over 50 and people with suppressed or compromised immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill. West Nile virus is rare, but people with symptoms, including high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, should contact their health care provider immediately. In California in 2006, there were 278 human cases of the virus. In Placer County in 2006, there were eight human cases.
The Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District and Placer County Health and Human Services offer the following additional reminders to prevent the spread of West Nile virus:
- Drain standing water weekly, since that's where mosquitoes lay eggs. Check your yard for water in old tires, flowerpots and bird baths.
- Avoid mosquito bites by staying indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and using an insect repellant that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Dead birds are a surveillance tool to help track West Nile virus. If you find a dead bird, please call the state at 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473) to report it, or do so online at www.westnile.ca.gov.
- Horses are vulnerable to West Nile virus, and many die. Contact your veterinarian about protective immunizations. West Nile does not spread between humans and horses.
If residents of Placer County have questions about West Nile virus or mosquitoes, are having mosquito problems, or need mosquito fish, they should call the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District at 916-435-2140 or visit the District’s website at www.placermosquito.org .