First bird case of West Nile confirmed in Nevada County
Staff reportsA dead bird found in the western Nevada County community of Penn Valley tested positive for West Nile virus, according to county health officials.”This is the first confirmation of the presence of West Nile virus in Nevada County, but adjacent counties already have reported bird cases,” said Larry Sage, director of the county’s Department of Environmental Health. Sage said there have been no human or equine cases found with the virus in Nevada County to date. Activity in terms of dead bird reports has been much greater in the southern and central areas of California so far in 2005.Nevada County residents are encouraged to notify the state if they find birds that have been dead for less than 24 hours and do not appear to have died as a result of an injury. The dead bird reporting Web site is found at cvecdata.ucdavis.edu/deadbird2.cfm. The Dead Bird Hot Line number is 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473).West Nile virus is one of a group of disease-causing viruses spread by mosquitoes, Sage said. The virus first appeared on the East Coast in 1999 and has steadily moved west. It is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito and cannot be spread person to person.Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds. Most people who are bitten by a mosquito with WNV will not get sick. Of those who do, only 2 in 10 will develop an illness that is similar to a bad flu. About one in 150 people infected will develop serious nervous system disease. There is no treatment or human vaccine for the virus.”The level of West Nile virus activity to date is low to moderate, although we have a significant amount of mosquito season ahead of us,” said Brent Packer, a Nevada County health officer.The best way to avoid infection is to avoid mosquito bites, Packer said. Use mosquito repellent and wear, long-sleeved clothing while outside. Consider limiting outside activity during dusk and dawn, which are times of increased mosquito feeding. “This is especially important for our residents over the age of 50 or those with debilitating health conditions,” he said.To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes or contracting WNV, Nevada County residents are urged to take the following precautions:• Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including tires, cans, flowerpots, toys and puddles. Don’t over-water your yard.• Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn, dusk, and the two-hour period after dusk.• When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.• Apply insect repellent, such as DEET, according to label instructions• Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.Go to the Nevada County West Nile Virus web site at http://www.mynevadacounty.com/westnilevirus/ for more information.