San Andreas, CA – Calaveras County Health Officer Dr. Dean Kelaita is alerting local residents that county health officials received this year’s first local confirmation of West Nile Virus.
He reports that the finding was made following review of a blood draw from a chicken in Copperopolis that is part of a flock of “sentinel chickens,” which are being used as part of a defensive frontline. West Nile Virus can generate a mosquito-borne disease with flu-like symptoms that in rare instances can be fatal.
Dr. Kelaita says that so far the chicken is a sole case and that so far there have been no others this year in any other species, including humans. However, due to the finding, he urges residents to “avoid the bite,” by practicing what he calls “the three D’s” of prevention. These are to use DEET or another effective mosquito repellent; avoid exposure to the insects at dawn and dusk, which are their most active times; also eliminate any standing water around your home because it is where mosquitoes breed.
Generally about 80 percent of people with West Nile Virus will experience no symptoms and most others will become flu-ish, according to Kelaita. Of those who become sick a small percentage will experience more severe neurologic symptoms. The virus can cause severe illness and death in horses, which an annual vaccine, optimally given in early spring, can help prevent.