PLACERVILLE, CAlif. October 20, 2017 – El Dorado County health officials received confirmation last week that a bird found in the Garden Valley area of El Dorado County has tested positive for West Nile virus, the second for 2017. The bird, an Acorn Woodpecker, was tested on September 29th. So far this year, West Nile virus activity in dead birds has been reported in 38 California counties with a total of 463 dead birds, including neighboring Sacramento (86 birds) and Placer (3 birds) counties.
Confirmation of the West Nile virus positive bird means the virus is circulating between birds and mosquitoes and there is heightened risk of infection in humans. It’s important to take precautions. Last year, four (4) West Nile virus positive birds were identified in El Dorado County on the western slope and one human case reported. For 2017, no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported for El Dorado County.
West Nile virus can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus when they feed on infected birds. The illness is not spread from person-to-person. While most people infected with the virus show no symptoms, some may have high fever, severe headache, tiredness and/or a stiff neck that can last several days to several weeks. The most serious cases of West Nile virus infection can lead to encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal.
Mosquito surveillance programs are in place throughout the County. Activities include trapping and identifying mosquitoes, treating neglected swimming pools, and reporting and testing dead birds. The El Dorado County Public Health Division conducts human surveillance activities and health care providers are asked to routinely test human cases of viral meningitis and encephalitis for West Nile virus.
The following tips are given to help prevent West Nile virus:
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• Drain standing water around the property and keep water in swimming pools, ponds and water troughs circulating or treated with “Mosquito Dunks” or mosquito fish.
• Apply insect repellent that contains DEET or another approved substance (e.g. picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535) on exposed skin when outdoors.
• Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors among mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight fitting screens, kept in good condition.
• Report dead birds and tree squirrels to the State West Nile Virus hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov. Wear gloves and place the dead bird or squirrel in a double plastic bag if you dispose of it yourself.
Mosquito problems and neglected swimming pools should be reported to the Environmental Management Division at (530) 621-5300 on the West Slope or (530) 573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe. Additional West Nile virus information can be found at www.westnile.ca.gov or www.edcgov.us/emd.