NEVADA CITY, Calif. — A case of West Nile virus was detected in a dead bird in Nevada County, according to the Friday memo issued by Nevada County Executive Officer Rick Haffey.
The California Department of Public Health notified the county of an American crow from the Nevada City area that tested positive for the virus, which is spread through mosquito bites.
The incident is the first this year and no cause for great concern, said Nevada County Public Health Officer Ken Cutler, adding that the incident is a reminder to people to take precautionary steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Such steps include not being outside during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, using mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeves or pants when outside.
“There’s no vaccine against it, so really, your best bet is prevention,” Cutler said.
The vast majority who become infected are unaware and exhibit no symptoms, he said.
Twenty percent who become infected have symptoms of a fever, headache or body ache that subside.
Only 1 percent or less develop serious symptoms of meningitis or paralysis, which is most prevalent in the elderly.
Last year marked the highest number of West Nile virus cases in 10 years, Cutler said, adding that a third of the cases were found in Texas.
“I can’t tell you why that was. Whatever local changes really increase mosquito activity,” he said.
“It’s a hard thing to predict, which is why they have animal populations tested.”
Only a single case of the virus has been detected in a person this year in Sacramento.
The county urges people to report dead birds as they can be an indication of infection and can be used to help locate infected mosquitoes.
Flyers and larvicide were distributed in Nevada City to rid ponds of mosquito eggs, Cutler said.
No human or equine cases have been confirmed as of this date in Nevada County.
“I anticipate if we get many more birds or if a horse gets sick, we’ll keep putting information out there,” Cutler said.
To report a dead bird, members of the public can call 530-265-1450.
For information, visit the California Department of Health website at http://westnile.ca.gov/.