Two birds with West Nile virus found in North County

Two birds collected in North County this summer have tested positive for West Nile virus, the first such findings in the county this year, according to the county Public Health Department.

One bird, a hawk, was collected Aug. 5 in Paso Robles. It had a chronic infection, which indicates an unknown time of infection, the department said.

The second bird, a wild turkey collected Sept. 10 in Atascadero, had been infected recently.

The virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.

County health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said residents should protect themselves from mosquito bites by eliminating mosquito habitat near the home, wearing appropriate clothing and using repellent.

Some other tips: Eliminate standing water on a property; keep screens in good repair; change water in birdbaths and pet dishes; and empty children’s wading pools.

Borenstein said 80 percent of infected people do not show symptoms. Those who do generally begin showing them — fever, headache, body aches — five to 15 days after being infected.

West Nile virus has been detected in 38 other California counties, with 126 cases and six deaths since the beginning of 2012, Borenstein said.

Throughout the United States, 3,142 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest number through the third week of September since 2003.

To report dead birds or squirrels, call 1-877-968-2473. For more information, go to http://westnile.ca.gov or http://cdc.gov/westnile.

To fill out an online report of a dead animal, go to http://westnile.ca.gov.