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First Bird Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in El Dorado County This Year

El Dorado County health officials received confirmation this week that a bird found in the South Lake Tahoe area of El Dorado County has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first for 2017. The bird, a Stellar’s Jay, was found on July 31st. So far this year, West Nile virus activity has been reported in 28 California counties, including neighboring Sacramento and Placer counties. There have been four human cases of the virus reported from Kings, Kern, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

Confirmation of the first West Nile virus positive bird means the virus is circulating between birds and
mosquitoes and there is heightened risk of infection in humans.

Last year, four West Nile virus positive birds were identified in El Dorado County on the western slope. One human case was reported.

West Nile virus can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus when they feed on infected birds. The illness is not spread from person-to-person. While most people infected with the virus show no symptoms, some may have high fever, severe headache,
tiredness and/or a stiff neck that can last several days to several weeks. The most serious cases of West Nile virus infection can lead to encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal.

Mosquito surveillance programs are in place throughout the County. Activities include trapping and
identifying mosquitoes, treating neglected swimming pools, and reporting and testing dead birds. The
El Dorado County Public Health Division conducts human surveillance activities and health care
providers are asked to routinely test human cases of viral meningitis and encephalitis for West Nile
virus.

The following tips are given to help prevent West Nile virus:

• Drain standing water around the property and keep water in swimming pools, ponds and water
troughs circulating or treated with “Mosquito Dunks” or mosquito fish.
• Apply insect repellent that contains DEET or another approved substance (e.g. picaridin, oil of
lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535) on exposed skin when outdoors.
• Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors among mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are most active
at dusk and dawn.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight fitting screens, kept in good condition.
• Report dead birds and tree squirrels to the State West Nile Virus hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD
(877-968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov. Wear gloves and place the dead bird or
squirrel in a double plastic bag if you dispose of it yourself.

Mosquito problems and neglected swimming pools should be reported to the Environmental
Management Division at (530) 621-5300 on the West Slope or (530) 573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe.
Additional West Nile virus information can be found at www.westnile.ca.gov or www.edcgov.us/emd.

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