Crow Dies Of West Nile Virus, Serving As A Reminder

Here are some steps to take to protect yourself from West Nile Virus.

Information from Solano County:

Solano County Mosquito Abatement District and Solano County Public Health officials confirmed today that there is ongoing evidence of local West Nile virus activity and urged residents to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and horse owners to vaccinate their horses. 

Officials received confirmation that an American crow within the city limits of Dixon tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).  Dead birds are screened routinely to test for mosquito-borne diseases.

“This is the first confirmed bird WNV case of 2012 in Solano County, and the first confirmed indication of local WNV activity for this year,” said Bela Matyas, MD/MPH, Solano Public Health Officer.

WNV is transmitted to humans and animals from mosquitoes who feed on the blood of infected birds.

“It is important for residents to avoid exposure to mosquitoes, and for horse owners to vaccinate their horses,” said Dr. Matyas, MD/MPH, Solano Public Health Officer.  Horses need to be vaccinated against WNV at least annually and horse owners are advised to consult with their veterinarian for advice on frequency of vaccinations for their specific area.

Solano County Mosquito Abatement District (SCMAD) regularly traps and tests groups of mosquitoes for various diseases, as one of many steps they take to control the mosquito population. 

“We are vigilantly working to control the mosquito population in our county.  However, unmaintained swimming pools due to home foreclosures have become a problem statewide and can potentially produce the types of mosquitoes that spread WNV.  If you have seen a green pool, please report it to us at (707) 437-1116,” said Jon Blegen, Solano County Mosquito Abatement District Manager.

Symptoms of West Nile fever in humans include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph glands, and eye pain.

“It’s important to remember that four out of five people who contract WNV will have no symptoms.  Approximately one in every five people infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever and notice mild, flu-like symptoms. Less than one percent of those infected will develop severe neurological disease,” explained Michael Stacey, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Health Officer for the County. 

West Nile virus is rarely life threatening, but the most severe forms of the disease may affect the central nervous system causing meningitis and encephalitis.

“The best strategy to avoid contracting WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.  I strongly urge the public to practice the five D’s of prevention,” Dr. Stacey added.

  • Dawn and dusk—wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts if you are going to be out at these times.
  • DEET—use insect repellent that contains DEET according to packaging directions (the non-DEET alternatives picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are also approved by the EPA).
  • Doors and windows—make sure screens are tight fitting and doors close completely.
  • Drain standing water around your house and use mosquito fish in ornamental ponds and horse troughs [call SCMAD at (707) 437-1116 for free mosquito fish].       
  • Dead birds and squirrels—report dead birds and tree squirrels online at www.westnile.ca.gov or by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473).

“As we approach summer, we remind Solano County residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes and to use DEET,” Blegen said.

In 2012, 47 birds have tested positive for WNV in California.  Statewide, no human cases of WNV illness have been reported this year.  Last year, 158 human cases of WNV illness were reported throughout California and no human cases were reported for Solano County.  Additional information about WNV can be found on the Internet at www.westnile.ca.gov and at www.cdc.gov.


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