Environment

Two More Dead Birds Test Positive for West Nile Virus

Two more dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus, San Diego County environmental health officials said Friday.

The two American crows, discovered Tuesday in San Diego and Wednesday in Lemon Grove, are the second and third dead birds that have tested positive for the potentially deadly disease in San Diego County this year.

Officials also said Friday that the County’s first regularly scheduled aerial larvicide drop of 2015 is planned for Wednesday, April 22.

The County has used helicopters for several years to drop larvicide that is harmless to people and pets but deadly to mosquito larvae to treat roughly 48 ponds, rivers and wetlands around the county. The drops are done every three to four weeks from April through October — typically peak mosquito season — and are used to knock down the population of mosquitoes that can transmit the disease.

County officials again urged people Friday to take simple steps to help keep the disease at bay.

“With West Nile virus season officially here, everyone needs to remember that we all play a part in protecting ourselves,” said County Department of Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon. “Eliminate standing water inside and outside homes to keep mosquitoes from breeding, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs or use repellent if you’re outside, and report dead birds and mosquito breeding areas.”

RELATED: How You Can Use the Fight the Bite App

San Diego County has largely escaped the effects of West Nile virus since it first arrived here in 2003. 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.

However, last year 11 San Diegans were diagnosed with West Nile virus, the county’s highest number since 2009, and two residents died.

Statewide, 801 Californians were diagnosed with West Nile virus in 2014 and 31 people died.

West Nile virus is a disease that primarily affects birds, but it can be transmitted to people, horses and other animals by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then people and animals.

County officials urged people to remember to “Prevent, Protect, 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 or vector@sdcounty.ca.gov.

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