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West Nile virus detected in chickens in Santa Barbara 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.

West Nile virus has been detected in four chickens near Solvang, Santa Barbara County Public Health officials said Monday.

Public health officials say the sentinel chicken flock, which is monitored by the Mosquito and Vector Management District to detect signs of West Nile or other mosquito-borne diseases, is located at the Wastewater Treatment Plant near Solvang.

Four of the chickens have tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus, the first detection in Santa Barbara County this year, but no human cases have been reported, officials said.

“Detection in chickens means there is a risk of potential spread to humans via mosquitoes,” Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said in a statement. “Most humans who become infected with WNV do not get sick.”

Some people experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches, which subside after a few days to weeks.

Elderly people and individuals with suppressed immune systems are at risk for more serious illness.

In San Luis Obispo County, a dead bird found in Atascadero on Sept. 18 tested positive for West Nile virus.

Health officials are urging residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes by avoiding outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active — at dusk and dawn.

West Nile virus is passed primarily between birds by mosquito vectors. Humans, horses and other animals can become infected with West Nile virus if bitten by an infected mosquito. Human-to-human transmission does not occur.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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