Health & Medicine

Dead bird tests positive for West Nile virus in SLO County

How to stay safe from mosquitoes

Zika and West Nile viruses are both transmitted by mosquitoes. Officials from public health and from Sacramento-Yolo vector control explain how to protect yourself from bites.
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Zika and West Nile viruses are both transmitted by mosquitoes. Officials from public health and from Sacramento-Yolo vector control explain how to protect yourself from bites.

A dead bird found in Atascadero on Sept. 18 has tested positive for West Nile virus, the Public Health Department said Monday.

The bird is the first confirmed evidence of West Nile virus in San Luis Obispo County in 2017, the department said. The bird was a western scrub jay, according to the department.

West Nile is commonly transmitted to people and animals by mosquitoes. About one in five people affected by West Nile experience flu-like symptoms, and less than 1 percent of people infected develop “serious neurologic illness,” the Public Health Department said. The majority of people infected with West Nile do not experience any symptoms.

The risk of serious illness increases for people over 50 years old and people with medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension, the department said.

Here are some ways people can limit the spread of West Nile and other mosquito-borne illnesses, according to the Public Health Department:

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.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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