Bird near South Lake Tahoe tests positive for West Nile virus | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Bird near South Lake Tahoe tests positive for West Nile virus

The disease is typically spread when an infected mosquito bites a person.

El Dorado County officials have confirmed the first positive test of West Nile virus in a bird in 2018.

The bird, a Steller's jay, was collected on May 7 in the South Lake Tahoe area, according to county health officials. Confirmation of the virus means West Nile is circulating between birds and mosquitoes and there is heightened risk of infection in humans.

So far this year, West Nile virus activity in dead birds has been reported in two other California counties: San Mateo and Santa Clara.

Last year, two West Nile virus-positive birds were identified in Garden Valley and South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported for El Dorado so far in 2018, according to the county.

West Nile virus can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. While most people infected with the virus show no symptoms, some may have high fever, severe headache, tiredness and/or a stiff neck that can last several days to several weeks, according to the county. The most serious cases of West Nile virus infection can lead to encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal.

Mosquito surveillance programs are in place throughout the county. Activities include trapping and identifying mosquitoes, treating neglected swimming pools, and reporting and testing dead birds. The El Dorado County Public Health Division conducts human surveillance activities and health care providers are asked to routinely test human cases of viral meningitis and encephalitis for West Nile virus.

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Officials offer the following tips to help prevent West Nile virus:

Drain standing water around the property and keep water in swimming pools, ponds and water troughs circulating or treated with "Mosquito Dunks" or mosquito fish.

Apply insect repellent that contains DEET or another approved substance (e.g. picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535) on exposed skin when outdoors.

Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors among mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn.

Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, kept in good condition.

Report dead birds and tree squirrels to the State West Nile Virus hotline at 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at http://www.westnile.ca.gov. Wear gloves and place the dead bird or squirrel in a double plastic bag if you dispose of it yourself.

Mosquito problems and neglected swimming pools should be reported to the Environmental Management Division at 530-573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe or 530-621-5300 on the West Slope. Additional West Nile virus information can be found at http://www.westnile.ca.gov or http://www.edcgov.us/emd.