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More Tuolumne County Birds Test Positive for West Nile Virus

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Four additional birds from mid-August have tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV) in Tuolumne County. In accordance with plans to monitor for the presence of the virus, the Health Department is continuing to receive calls for dead birds that are found. However, plans for sending the birds for West Nile Virus testing have changed slightly.

The health department continues to tally and track the location of reports of all dead birds from throughout the county. For zip code regions in the county without a previously documented positive WNV bird, members of the Corvid species – crows, ravens, magpies or jays – that are reported within 24 hours of death will continue to be sent to the state laboratory for testing until a positive specimen is identified. For zip code regions with an already identified WNV-positive bird, the specimens will no longer need to be sent to the state lab.

Reporting parties will be instructed at the time that they call whether the birds will be picked up by the Health Department for testing at the state lab. Birds that will not be collected for testing may be safely buried after receiving instructions to do so by the Health Department staff.

The following zip code regions have already submitted WNV-positive bird specimens: 95327, 95370, 95372, 95373, 95321, and 95383. We continue to encourage reports of dead birds from all zip code regions to be made to the Health Department by calling the numbers at the end of this news release so that we can monitor the waxing and waning effect of the virus on the local bird population, and thereby interpret the level of risk to humans. While health providers will continue to monitor their patients for possible signs of illness, it is important to remember that many viral illnesses may mimic the symptoms of West Nile Virus disease.

Individuals can reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:

·Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and the first two hours after sunset

·When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts

·Apply insect repellant containing DEET according to label instructions

·Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes

·Eliminate all sources of standing water, which can support mosquito breeding.

For additional information on reporting of dead birds in Tuolumne County, please call the Division of Environmental Health between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM Monday through Friday at 209-533-5990. For questions about human health speak to your health care provider or call the Public Health Division between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM at 209-533-7401. After hours or on weekends and holidays, call the person on call for the Health Department at 209-533-8055.