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First Bird Tests Positive For West Nile In Tuolumne County

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Sonora, Ca — A bird submitted to a lab on June 18th from Tuolumne County has tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Tuolumne County Health Officer Dr. Todd Stolp says the Black-headed Grosbeak was found in Sonora. There have been three humans with new West Nile Virus infections so far in California in 2007, all in Kern County. Twenty-five counties total have registered birds testing positive for the virus.

The presence of the virus becomes more evident during the late spring and summer months, as the mosquito population increases. The West Nile Virus is spread from birds to other animals by mosquitoes.

Although many people will not be aware of the infection, up to one-in-five may experience symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. West Nile can also be fatal.

Health officials says that this is a time of year when taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites is important, especially for the elderly, the very young, and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or immune system weakness. The following steps are important to consider:

1) Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors, especially at dawn or dusk.

2) Use a mosquito repellant on your skin and exposed areas when outdoors. The most effective repellants contain DEET, picaridin, or eucalyptus/lemon oil.

3) Drain standing water to discourage mosquito breeding on your property.

4) If you have a pond that may provide mosquito breeding habitat, consider the use of “mosquito dunks,” which are doughnut-shaped floating devices that slowly release a natural larvacide, “BTI.” This kills mosquito larvae and some other insects but is safe for other animals.

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

Written by BJ Hansen