he Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District reports today that four more birds have tested positive for West Nile virus, proving the risk of infection has not waned in spite of the unofficial end of summer. The birds that tested positive for the virus came from Brentwood (2), Walnut Creek (1), and Oakley (1). All 2014 West Nile virus activity can be found on the District’s website.
As West Nile virus is a disease that starts in birds, dead bird reports are a critical tool in the District’s Integrated Vector Management program because the location of each report becomes a target for scrutiny by District inspectors, technicians and laboratory staff. Without these reports, the District would be at a serious disadvantage.
“Without this information, we would most likely have to wait for mosquitoes or people to test positive for infection and that delay would put all Contra Costa County residents at an increased risk of disease,” said the District’s Scientific Programs Manager Steve Schutz, Ph.D.
The District urges residents to report all dead birds to the California Dead Bird Hotline online or by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473). While each bird may not be a candidate for testing, every dead bird report is essential.
According to the California West Nile Virus website, at this same time last year there were 101 human cases compared to 181 this year, 987 dead birds compared to 1793 this year, and 1854 mosquito samples compared to 2485 this year. In fact, state health officials reported this week that the number of infected mosquitoes statewide is at an all time high, and so prevention is key. Infected mosquitoes can infect people with the virus in just a single bite.
Residents are urged to help reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:
- Dump or drain standing water. Mosquitoes can’t begin their lives without water.
- Defend yourself against mosquitoes by using repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present, typically dawn and dusk.
- Report neglected swimming pools by calling 925-771-6195 or visiting http://www.ContraCostaMosquito.com. Anonymous calls accepted. Just one neglected pool can produce more than 1 million mosquitoes and affect people up to five miles away.
- Report dead birds to the state hotline: 1-877-968-2473. All reports are crucial, even if the bird does not meet criteria for testing.
Since 2005, 48 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. In 2006, two people died from the disease. Recent studies have shown that the majority of cases are not diagnosed and are grossly underreported. For 2014, a total of 19 groups of mosquitoes, 13 chickens and 35 dead birds have tested positive for the virus.
Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, an independent special district and 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, horse troughs or neglected swimming pools.