The El Dorado County Environmental Management Division of the Community Development Agency and Health and Human Services Agency received confirmation July 11 that West Nile virus has been detected in one bird found in the El Dorado Hills area; the first confirmed positive results for 2014 in the County of El Dorado. The bird, a Western scrub jay, was found on July 1. There have been no human cases of West Nile virus reported in El Dorado County for 2014.
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West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes pick up the virus when they feed on infected birds. The illness is not spread from person-to-person. Most people infected with West Nile virus show no symptoms. However, some people may experience high fever, severe headache, tiredness and/or a stiff neck which may last several days to several weeks. 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. Programs include trapping and identifying mosquitoes, treating neglected swimming pools and reporting and testing dead birds and tree squirrels. In addition, physicians are encouraged to routinely test human cases of viral meningitis and encephalitis for West Nile Virus. The public is also encouraged to assist by reporting and removing sources of standing water in their yards.
To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, the following is recommended:
• Drain standing water around property and keep water in swimming pools, ponds and troughs circulating or treated with “Mosquito Dunks.”
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET or another approved substance (e.g. picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535) on exposed skin when outdoors among mosquitoes.
• Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. While outside among mosquitoes, dress in long sleeves and long pants.
• 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 877-968-2473 or online at westnile.ca.gov. Wear gloves and place dead birds or squirrels in a double plastic bag if disposing of them yourself.
Mosquito problems and neglected swimming pools should be reported to the county Environmental Management Division at 530-621-5300 in Placerville or 530-573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe. Additional West Nile virus information is available at westnile.ca.gov or edcgov.us/emd.