Environment

Fifth Bird This Year Positive for West Nile Virus

A dead American crow found in Lemon Grove has tested positive for West Nile virus, the fifth dead bird that has tested positive for the disease this year, San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) officials said Tuesday.

County officials also said that they recently discovered their first batch of mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus this year.

Three of the five dead birds found this year and the mosquito batch were found in the Lemon Grove-Spring Valley area. But County vector control officials said that doesn’t mean the virus is limited to those areas. West Nile virus has been found throughout the county since it arrived in 2003. Vector control is the DEH program that educates the public and monitors and controls “vectors” — pests like mosquitoes that can transmit disease to people.

County officials again urged people to help protect themselves from the mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus.

“The National Weather Service is predicting the possibility of rains this week, which makes it even more important for people to search out and eliminate any standing water on their properties that could allow mosquitoes to breed,” said Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon. “And, of course, people should remember to ‘Prevent, Protect, and Report.’”

Prevent Mosquito Breeding: Dump out or remove any item inside or outside of homes that can hold water, such as plant saucers, rain gutters, buckets, garbage cans, toys, old tires, and wheelbarrows. Mosquito fish, available for free, may be used to control mosquito breeding in backyard water sources such as unused swimming pools, ponds, fountains and horse troughs.

Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites: Protect yourself from West Nile virus by staying inside when mosquitoes are most active, at dusk and dawn. Wear long sleeves and pants or use repellent when outdoors. Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured to keep insects out.

Report Dead Birds and Green Swimming Pools: Report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, and green swimming pools to the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 orvector@sdcounty.ca.gov.

San Diego County has largely escaped the effects of West Nile virus. In the four years from 2010 to 2013, state health officials reported that 1,127 Californians got West Nile virus — but just one San Diego resident was diagnosed with the disease.

But last year 11 San Diegans were diagnosed with West Nile virus, the county’s highest number since 2009, and two residents died. Statewide in 2014, 801 Californians were diagnosed with West Nile virus and 31 people died.

County officials said the public can keep up with West Nile virus activity and anonymously report dead birds and green swimming pools by downloading the County’s “Fight the Bite” mobile app.

For more information about West Nile virus, go to San Diego County’s “Fight the Bite” website.

 

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact