Solano County

Dead crow first sign of West Nile virus in Solano County

By From page A6 | May 21, 2014

FAIRFIELD — The first sign of West Nile virus activity was confirmed Monday in Solano County.

Mosquito Abatement District and Department of Health and Social Services officials said a crow found in Fairfield tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Michael Stacey, chief medical officer and deputy health officer for the county, said in a press release that this is the first evidence of local West Nile virus activity in Solano County this year. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus infection in humans so far this year, he said.

As of May 9, West Nile virus activity has been detected in six other counties. No human cases have been reported in California to date this year, according to the press release, citing statistics from the California Department of Public Health.

There were a total of 379 human cases of West Nile Virus reported in California in 2013, with 15 reported deaths. There was one reported human case of West Nile Virus infection in Solano County in 2013.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.

“This serves as a reminder to the community that we need to follow these simple precautions to ensure that we protect ourselves against mosquito bites and reduce our risk of infection,” Stanley said in the press release.

To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, county officials recommend:

  • People should avoid being outside during the early morning and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active. If you are outdoors during that time, wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants and use insect repellent.
  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water and drain empty flower pots, buckets, barrels, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.
  • If you have an ornamental pond, call the Solano County Mosquito Abatement District at 437-1116 for a free mosquito fish.
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.

Only 1 in 5 people infected with the virus develop mild symptoms, which can include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph glands and eye pain, the press release said. Symptoms typically start three to 14 days after the person is bitten by an infected mosquito.

Fewer than 1 percent (about 1 in 150) of people with West Nile virus infection will develop severe neurological disease, which can include neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

In very rare occasions, West Nile virus can be fatal, Stacey said.

Anyone can be infected with West Nile virus. People 50 and older, and those with diabetes or hypertension, are at higher risk of developing severe illness and complications.

“We utilize all the tools that we have in order to control the mosquito populations throughout the county,” said Jon Blegen, Solano County Mosquito Abatement District manager, in the press release. “However, I would like to emphasize the availability of effective mosquito repellents and encourage residents to use them on a regular basis.”

“Solano County residents can assist us by reporting dead birds and squirrels,” Stacey said.

Residents can report dead birds and squirrels online at www.westnile.ca.gov or by calling 877-968-2473. Residents are asked to report any swimming pools that are not maintained by calling 437-1116.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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