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West Nile Virus: Report dead birds to help control it

By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 11th, 2010 at 6:37 am in West Nile virus.

Giant mosquito. Photo by Flickr user Arthur Chapman used under a Creative Commons License.
mosquito by Arthur Chapman

The public is urged to report dead birds to help control West Nile Virus. Thanks. /Gary

The Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District is urging residents to report dead birds to help control West Nile virus. Dead bird reports provide valuable information to District staff helping them to understand where human cases of West Nile virus may occur. Technicians are then able to concentrate their surveillance and control in those specific areas before people contract the disease from mosquitoes.

west nile

“Dead bird reports remain our most sensitive and earliest indicator of virus transmission,” said Dr. Steve Schutz, scientific program manager for the District. “Many other Districts in the nation have had to abandon their dead bird program since they didn’t receive enough calls.  It would be a shame for us to have to lose one of our best tools to help protect public health.”

The public is urged to continue to call in dead birds they find to the free state hotline:  877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473). It’s important to note that not all birds are picked up and tested, it’s the reports alone that are very valuable to mosquito control surveillance and control efforts. Countywide, dead bird reports are down 81 percent from last year and statewide, reports are down 79 percent, but the infection rate in birds remain the same. Less calls reduce the District’s ability to predict West Nile virus hotspots and therefore, inhibits their ability to reduce infection in people.

Birds are reservoirs for West Nile virus. Mosquitoes transmit the virus by biting an infected bird or animal and then biting a person or other animal.

So far in 2010, there have been no animals or people that have been confirmed with West Nile virus.

Most people who are bitten by a mosquito with West Nile virus will not get sick; however, up to 20 percent of the population infected with West Nile virus will get West Nile fever. West Nile fever causes people to experience mild to severe flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body ache and possible paralysis. Less than one percent of infected individuals will require hospitalization. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to illness and death caused by West Nile virus.

Residents are urged to take the following precautions:

*** DEAD birds should be reported to 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at http://www.westnile.ca.gov/. Not all birds will be picked up and tested, but reporting dead birds provides important information for mosquito control efforts.

*** DEFEND yourself against mosquitoes by using a repellent with an effective active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Make sure to follow label directions.

*** DRAIN all sources of standing water that may support mosquito-breeding habitats. Residential sources can be a big producer of mosquitoes in Contra Costa County.

*** DOOR and window screens should fit tight and be in good repair. This will prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

*** DO vaccinate your horses. Horses are highly susceptible to West Nile virus – approximately half of the horses that get West Nile virus die or have to be euthanized. More on horses at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/AHFSS/Animal_Health/WNV_Info.html

*** DAWN and DUSK are times to avoid being outdoors since this is when mosquitoes are most active.

*** DRESS appropriately by wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors and mosquitoes are present.

People wishing to be notified about adult mosquito fogging or spraying in residential areas have several options. They may visit the District’s Web site (http://www.ccmvcd.dst.ca.us) and opt to receive the notifications automatically by e-mail; they can view information directly on the District’s Web site (http://www.ccmvcd.dst.ca.us); or they may phone the District for a recorded message at 925-771-6195.

Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, a public health agency, is located at 155 Mason Circle in Concord. Call the District to report mosquito problems at 925-771-6195 or visit their office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to get FREE mosquitofish for ornamental ponds or horse troughs. Fish are also available at the Antioch Corporation Yard located at 1201 W. 4th Street in Antioch.

For information concerning human West Nile virus symptoms, prevention, or testing, please call the Contra Costa Health Services department at 888-959-9911 or visit their Web site at http://cchealth.org.

*** For information concerning West Nile virus and horses, please call the California Department of Food and Agriculture Animal Health Branch at 916-654-1447 or visit http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/AHFSS/Animal_Health/WNV_Info.html

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One Response to “West Nile Virus: Report dead birds to help control it”

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