CONTRA COSTA, Calif. (BCN) – Contra Costa County officials this week urged residents to take
West Nile virus precautions after two sentinel chickens and three other dead birds recently tested positive for the virus.
So far this year, 11 groups of mosquitoes, 15 dead birds and the two sentinel chickens in Contra Costa County have tested positive for the virus.
The eastern part of the county has seen most of the West Nile virus activity so far, but one of the three dead birds recently found was in Concord, officials from the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District said.
“The first positive bird of the year came from Martinez. With a bird from Concord, this is an important reminder that the West Nile virus is not confined to just part of Contra Costa County, “said Steve Schutz, the district̵
So far this year, two people in the county have been diagnosed with the virus, according to the State Department of Public Health.
Since 2005, 70 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile Virus. In 2006, two people died of the disease.
Chickens are considered to be sentinels because if an infected mosquito bites a chicken, the bird can naturally resist the virus and develop antibodies that are detected in laboratory tests.
Both chickens recently found with the virus were from the Holland Tract in East Contra Costa County.
Some infected birds, particularly crows and jays, are known to get sick and die from the disease. When a mosquito bites an infected bird, the mosquito can become infected and spread the virus to another bird or person through a mosquito bite.
Residents are urged to take precautions to reduce the risk of mosquito bites. Virus transmission can continue until average nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees for a week or more.
Residents can reduce the risk of the virus by draining or draining stagnant water as the insects develop from egg to adult in the water.
Repellants that contain DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil are recommended.
Swimming pools should be chlorinated and filtered because only a neglected swimming pool can produce up to 1 million mosquitoes and hit people several miles away, district officials said.
Residents are also advised to avoid the outdoors when mosquitoes are present, usually in the morning and evening light.
Dead birds can be reported to the state hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD (968-2473) or online at http://westnile.ca.gov/report.php.
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