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September 25, 2012 > West Nile Virus season is not over

West Nile Virus season is not over

Submitted By Erika Castillo

The Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District in conjunction with Supervisor Scott Haggerty's office urges Alameda County residents to remain vigilant about the risk of contracting West Nile Virus (WNV). Alameda County has seen an increase in WNV positive dead birds this year compared to last. Dead birds can be an indication that WNV is present in an area, particularly dead crows, jays and birds of prey. If you come across a dead bird or tree squirrel, please report it by calling (877) WNV-BIRD or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

According to the CDC, there is no danger of contracting WNV from handling intact dead birds; however, the following procedure is suggested to keep hands clean when collecting a specimen: Turn a plastic bag inside-out, and pick up the bird with the hands protected by the bag. Turn the bag right-side-out. The bag should then be tied or sealed and placed inside another plastic bag.

"With the fall season now among us, the evenings have begun to cool down and people are spending more time outdoors. I would definitely urge residents of Alameda County to take all necessary precautions to prevent West Nile Virus infection. The use of products containing DEET and dressing appropriately are instrumental in warding off mosquito bites," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

In 2012, Alameda County has had no human or horse cases of WNV, nor have any mosquitoes tested positive. Residents have reported over 400 dead birds - of those, 86 were tested and 13 were found positive for WNV, along with 1 tree squirrel. To date, California has had 1,273 dead birds test positive for WNV.

There are 126 cases of human WNV infection in 23 California counties, including 6 deaths. In 2011, California had 158 human cases of WNV including 9 fatalities.

"West Nile Virus activity has increased nationwide this year," said District Entomologist Bruce Kirkpatrick. "We have increased our surveillance and control efforts throughout the County to address the increased risk this mosquito season."

Reduce the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:
DUMP/DRAIN standing water on your property because that is where mosquitoes develop.
DAWN/DUSK is when mosquito activity peaks so limit outdoor activities during this time.
DEFEND yourself when mosquitoes are biting by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts and apply insect repellent containing EPA-registered active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of lemon eucalyptus.
DOOR/window screens should be in good repair with no tears or holes.

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 compromised 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.

Since horses are very susceptible to WNV and three different vaccines are available for horses, horse owners are advised to contact their veterinarians immediately about timely vaccinations.

For information about mosquitoes and West Nile Virus visit our website: www.mosquitoes.org.

Residents can request mosquito-larvae eating fish for their fish ponds, horse troughs, etc. by contacting our District office. We are located in Hayward at 23187 Connecticut St. Our phone number is (510)783-7744. For information concerning West Nile Virus symptoms, prevention or testing please contact the Alameda County Public Health Department at (510)267-8001.

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