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West Nile virus confirmed in Stanislaus County

POSTED June 1, 2012 6:33 p.m.

The presence of the West Nile virus has officially been detected in Stanislaus County as health officials reported a dead bird tested positive for the virus.

The dead bird was found in Modesto, according to the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency. This is the first positive result in Stanislaus County for the year.

There have been 10 counties in California with confirmed West Nile virus activity, as of Thursday. All of the confirmed cases have been found in birds. There have been no reports of humans sickened by the virus in California as of yet.

West Nile virus affects the central nervous system. The virus is hosted by birds and transmitted to mosquitoes through their bites. Most people infected with West Nile virus will not experience any symptoms. Some will have mild symptoms, including fever, rash, nausea and headaches. For a few individuals the virus can cause a severe illness and even death.

Last year there were 158 reported human cases and nine deaths in the state. There were 11 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Stanislaus County in 2011, making it one of the more active West Nile virus regions in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Health and mosquito abatement officials have been taking steps to control the mosquito population. Officials are asking residents to play their part by checking their property for standing water and telling their local mosquito abatement district if they are being bitten by mosquitoes.

“The mild winter weather may have allowed the mosquitoes a head start in becoming established,” said David Heft, general manager of the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District. “So, we need the public’s help in being diligent about dumping out any standing water and notifying their local district about neglected swimming pools.”

The CDPH is now classifying the positive West Nile virus results as “positive-recent” or “chronic.” A “positive-recent” classification means the test showed high levels of the virus and that the transmission was made recently. A “chronic” is indicative of a past infection with low levels of the virus present.

According to the state health department, Stanislaus County has one bird classified as “positive-recent.”

To report a dead bird, call the California State hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or report it online at www.westnile.ca.gov. Birds of particular interest to the state are crows, ravens, magpies, jays and raptors (hawk or eagle).

To report mosquito-breeding problem areas, Stanislaus County residents should contact one of the two mosquito abatement districts that serve the county. For Stanislaus County addresses north of the Tuolumne River residents should call the Eastside Mosquito Abatement District at 522-4098. All others should contact the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at 634-1234.

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