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August 21, 2012 > West Nile Virus found in Alameda County

West Nile Virus found in Alameda County

Submitted By Erika Castillo

The Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District reported a dead bird that tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) on August 17, 2012. This is the County's first indication of active virus transmission this year. The bird was an American Crow, picked up in the City of Livermore (Zip Code 94551), and was tested in house via RAMP test.

Since West Nile Virus is a mosquito-transmitted disease, controlling the mosquito population is paramount. District staff have been checking and treating all known sources in the area, including but not limited to storm drains, catch basins, and neglected swimming pools. "We predict that the Tri-Valley area, being the warmest part of the county, will be the focus of West Nile Virus infections this year. That has proven to be the case in the past" said District Manager John Rusmisel. "We need all residents of the county, especially those in the Tri-Valley area, to check their own front and backyards for any standing water."

Rusmisel said "Don't wait until someone you know gets sick with West Nile Virus before taking steps to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Do it now! Use mosquito repellent containing either DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus and wear long sleeves and long pants when going outside; put screens on your windows and doors; get rid of any standing water in your backyard."

Use the following list to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
Drain all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, and don't overwater your lawn
Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and the first two hours after sunset
Apply insect repellent containing DEET, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picaridin according to label instructions
When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts (you can now buy clothing with insect repellent built into the fabric)
Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
Contact us if you are being bothered by mosquitoes or know of a potential mosquito breeding source.

Most people who become infected with WNV do not experience symptoms or become ill. Only about one out every 150 people infected with WNV may develop a more severe form of the illness. Adults over 50 years old and people with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of serious complications from WNV infection. Anyone who develops symptoms such as a high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches or stiff neck should seek medical care immediately.

As part of an on-going surveillance program, the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District is asking the public to report any wild birds, specifically crows, ravens, jays, magpies and birds of prey that have been dead less than 48 hours (and show no signs of decomposition), to the California Department of Health Services. Their website address for reporting the dead birds is: They can also be reached by phone: 1(877)WNV-BIRD 1(877)968-2473.

Since horses are very susceptible to WNV, and the mortality rate for infected horses is exceptionally high, horse owners are advised to contact their veterinarians immediately about vaccinations.

To date this year in California WNV has been detected in 32 counties for a total of 23 human cases, 4 horses, 718 dead birds, 1,136 mosquito pools (pools are groups of ~50 mosquitoes tested together), 75 sentinel chicken flocks, and 2 squirrels. In 2011, California had 158 human cases of West Nile Virus including 9 fatalities.

The current surveillance program to monitor for WNV in California has been established by CDHS in collaboration with the University of California at Davis, California Department of Food and Agriculture, local mosquito and vector control districts and other state and local agencies.

The public can access information about mosquitoes and West Nile Virus on our website: Residents can also pick up mosquito-larvae eating fish at our District office from 7:30-4:30pm for their fish ponds, horse troughs, etc. We are located in Hayward at 23187 Connecticut St. Our phone number is (510)783-7744.

For information concerning human West Nile Virus symptoms, prevention or testing please contact the Alameda County Public Health Department at (510) 267-8001.

For information regarding horses and WNV, contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture:
Equine West Nile information line at 1(800) 268-7378

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