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El Dorado County health officials received confirmation this week that a bird found in the El Dorado Hills area of El Dorado County has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first for 2015. The bird, a Western Scrub Jay, was found on June 16. So far this year, West Nile virus activity has been reported in 26 California counties, including neighboring Sacramento and Placer counties. No human cases of the virus have been reported in California thus far in 2015.
According to Fred Sanford, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist with the El Dorado County Environmental Management Division, it is unusual to see a West Nile positive bird this early in the season. "We don't typically get our first report of a West Nile positive bird in El Dorado County until later in the summer," said Sanford. "Confirmation of our first West Nile virus positive bird means the virus is circulating between birds and mosquitoes and there is heightened risk of infection in humans. It's important to take precautions." Last year, seven West Nile virus positive birds were identified in El Dorado County. No human cases were 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.
Sanford recommends the following tips to prevent West Nile virus:
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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