West Nile virus confirmed in Truckee bird
Staff reportsThe Nevada County Department of Environmental Health confirmed late last week that a dead bird found in Truckee tested positive for West Nile virus. The discovery of the dead Steller’s jay, along with a dead yellow-billed magpie found in Rough and Ready in western Nevada County, are the first confirmations of the presence of West Nile in the county. There have been no human or equine cases found with the virus in Nevada County to date. West Nile virus-positive birds were reported today from five counties where it had not been found before, health officials said. “It is important that residents protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes, since mosquitoes can carry the virus. This is especially important for our residents over the age of 50, and those whose immune systems are compromised,” said Dr. Glaister Dawkins, interim Nevada County health officer. County health officials encouraged residents to notify the State of California 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 from cats, dogs or cars. The Dead Bird Reporting website is found at http://westnile.ca.gov/deadbird.cfm. If you do not have Internet access, 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. West Nile virus first appeared on the East Coast in 1999 and has steadily moved west. The virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito and cannot be spread person to person, according to Dawkins. Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds. Most people who are bitten by a mosquito with the virus will not get sick. Of those who do, only 2 in 10 will develop an illness that is similar to a bad flu, Dawkins said. About one in 150 people infected will develop serious nervous system disease. There is no treatment or human vaccine for the virus. “The Nevada County West Nile virus task force has been implementing the Nevada County West Nile Virus Response Plan in preparation for the arrival of the virus in the county,” said Dawkins.To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes or contracting West Nile virus, 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 website for additional information. The website is http://www.mynevadacounty.com/westnilevirus/.
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Volunteers are being sought to take water samples from creeks, streams and smaller lakes, including Lake Tahoe, in the Tahoe-Truckee watershed to get a snapshot of water quality at a single moment in time.