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More West Nile Virus Found In Calaveras

Another dead bird has tested positive for the West Nile virus, bringing the Calaveras County total to two.

The first bird – a scrub jay – was found in the historic downtown section of Angels Camp on July 29 and officials with the Calaveras County Health Department announced the positive test Aug. 11.

The second bird was a dead quail picked up in San Andreas on Aug. 4. The bird was sent to the California Department of Health Services, which confirmed the animal had West Nile virus on Aug. 19.

“We expect that reports of the virus in local birds will continue,” said Colleen Tracy, director of public health.

As of Aug. 19, Tracy said 189 human cases of the virus had been reported in California, six of which were fatal. None have yet been reported in Calaveras County.

County Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita stressed residents should take precautions to avoid coming into contact with mosquitoes, which carry the virus.

“Infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure to mosquitoes,” Kelaita said. “This is especially important for persons at higher risk of complications, those over age 50 or with weakened immune systems.”

The county Health Department´s “Fight the Bite” campaign is in full swing, Tracy said. “Wallet-size ‘Fight the Bite´ information cards were recently sent to local physicians, pharmacies, and community agencies serving high-risk persons,” she said.

“The advice for the public is to eliminate mosquito breeding sources and prevent mosquito bites by following the ‘Four Ds,´” she added.

* Drain standing water around your home.

* Dusk and Dawn limit outdoor activities or dress to protect against bites.

* DEET works to keep mosquitoes away. (Follow product instructions for safe use.)

* Dress in long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

Tracy said 87 horses have been reported in California with the virus as of Aug. 12 and 48 animals have died or were euthanized. There is a vaccine for horses that is available from local veterinarians.

There is no vaccine for humans.

“Some people may become sick with flu-like symptoms,” Kelaita said, “but serious complications occur in less than one percent of persons infected with West Nile virus.”

For more information on West Nile virus and the “Fight the Bite” campaign, visit www.calaveras.co.ca.us and click on the West Nile virus information link.

Calaveras Enterprise story by Mike Taylor. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com