Five birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in 2017, an “unusually high” number and more than in recent years, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department said on Tuesday.
The most recent case was collected on Nov. 9 in San Luis Obispo, the department said in a news release. Additionally, two birds were found in Atascadero, one in Templeton and one in Paso Robles.
San Luis Obispo County saw no confirmed cases of West Nile in birds from 2014 to 2016 and only one case in both 2012 and 2013, according to the Public Health Department.
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Dr. Penny Borenstein, the county’s public health officer, said in a news release that though the number is higher than it has been in recent years, it’s “not surprising following this year’s rainy winter.”
Borenstein added that West Nile is transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in standing water, so an increase in rain means an increase in breeding sites.
While most people infected with West Nile do not experience symptoms, about one in five have flu-like symptoms and a small number of those affected develop a serious neurologic illness, the Public Health Department said. The risk is higher for people over 50 and people with medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
So far in 2017, West Nile virus has been found in 47 California counties, with 454 human cases and 25 deaths, the Public Health Department said.
Here are some ways people can limit the spread of West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses:
To prevent mosquito bites:
▪ Apply a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
▪ Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
▪ Check and repair all screens, including screen doors, to keep mosquitoes out.
To eliminate mosquito breeding sites:
▪ Find and drain containers that collect water around the yard, like empty cans, buckets, flower pots, old tires and swimming pool covers.
▪ Clear roof gutters so water can drain properly.
▪ Clean and scrub bird baths, fountains, pet dishes and other water sources at least once a week.
For more information on West Nile, visit www.westnile.ca.gov.