Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health

PRESS RELEASE

Date Released: 8/3/2007
Subject: West Nile Virus Confirmed in American Crow from Blue Lake Area
Contact: Brian Cox, Director of Environmental Health
Phone: (707) 445-6215


An American crow submitted from the West End and Hatchery Road area south of Blue Lake on July 24th has tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the first time this season Humboldt County reports a positive bird. West Nile Virus is a mosquito borne disease that principally affects birds during summer months, but can be passed to humans and horses. During 2005 and 2006 the virus was identified in local birds. There have been no locally acquired human or horse cases identified in Humboldt County to date.

The bird was the 16th submission from Humboldt County this year as one phase of the ongoing West Nile Virus surveillance efforts conducted by the Environmental Health Division. In previous years the virus was identified in dead birds from Arcata, Eureka, Ferndale, Loleta, McKinleyville, Weott, Miranda, and Westhaven. This positive bird reaffirms that the virus is present this year. Residents can assist in surveillance efforts by reporting dead birds and tree squirrels to the California state WNV hot line number at 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473) in Richmond. Humboldt county residents have been very observant and cooperative in reporting dead birds, an essential component of local surveillance.

The Humboldt County Division of Environmental Health wants to remind the public that there are three simple ways to protect themselves from mosquito bites and WNV, especially when traveling into the warm central valley areas where the virus is more active and human cases have been reported:

• DEET - Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.

• DAWN and DUSK - Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite early in the morning and evening so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep the mosquitoes out. Repair or replace screens with tears and holes.

• DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters, buckets and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquitoes. Ranchers and farmers are encouraged not to over irrigate their fields. Standing water in fields and adjacent ditches are prime breeding grounds for the WNV mosquito. Water troughs and stock ponds should be checked for the presence of mosquito larvae.

For more information on WNV contact the Humboldt County Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or toll free at 800-963-9241, or log onto the State of California WNV Web site at www.westnile.ca.gov or Humboldt County Public Health’s local web site located at www.humboldthealthalert.org. by clicking on the West Nile Virus bar. In addition to reporting dead birds, Californians are encouraged to report dead tree squirrels. The two tree squirrels native to Humboldt County are the Western Gray Squirrel and the Douglas Squirrel. The Web site also contains information on the most common birds found with WNV. Dead birds and squirrels can be reported on the Web site or by calling 877-968-2473.

 

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