Bird found in South Lake Tahoe area tests positive for West Nile virus |

Bird found in South Lake Tahoe area tests positive for West Nile virus

A bird found in the South Lake Tahoe area of El Dorado County has tested positive for West Nile virus, the county confirmed on Friday, Aug. 11.

It is the first confirmed case of 2017.

The bird, a Stellar’s Jay, was found on July 31. West Nile virus activity has been reported in 28 California counties, including neighboring Sacramento and Placer counties, according to El Dorado County.

There have been four human cases of the virus reported from Kings, Kern, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

Confirmation of the first West Nile virus positive bird means the virus is circulating between birds and mosquitoes and there is heightened risk of infection in humans. Last year, four West Nile virus positive birds were identified in El Dorado County on the western slope. One human case was reported.

"It’s important to take precautions," the county said in a statement.

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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.