The county’s first confirmed evidence of West Nile virus this season has turned up in a bird found dead. According to the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District Manager David Whitesell, a European Sterling was located within the City of Colusa and tested positive earlier this month.
“This is the first bird found to have tested positive for the season,” said Whitesell.
The last time Colusa County had a dead bird confirmed with West Nile Virus was in 2015.
“We usually see a couple of birds a year since the virus arrived in 2005,” said Whitesell.
Nearby counties to report infected dead birds this year include Lake County and Sacramento County.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that was initially found in Africa. It was first detected in the eastern United States in 1999. Since then, the virus has spread across the continental United States and is well established in most states, including California.
People bitten by an infected mosquito may develop West Nile fever and experience flu-like symptoms that can include fever, body aches, skin rash, and fatigue. In some people, it can evolve into a more severe form of the disease. The disease can only be spread by an infected mosquito, blood transfusions, or transplants. The virus can not be spread through casual contact.
People typically develop symptoms 3 to 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito. The incubation period could be longer in people with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system.
In 2016, Colusa County had two confirmed human cases of the West Nile Virus, and one in 2014, and three in 2013.
The California Department of Health recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds”:
1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting. DEET can be used safely on infants and children two months of age and older.
2. DAWN AND DUSK – The mosquitoes that transmit WNV bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate or remove all sources of standing water around homes and properties, including buckets, old car tires, rain gutters, birdbaths, and pet bowls. If a swimming pool is not being properly maintained, please contact the local mosquito and vector control agency.
Whitesell said that mosquito activity earlier in the season was lower than average due to the late rice planting season.
“Rice was two weeks late this season, and we are starting to see an influx of mosquito activity,” said Whitesell. “We are continuing our spraying program as usual.”
The Colusa Mosquito Abatement District sprays the City of Colusa and outlying houses on Mondays and Thursdays from 8 PM to Midnight, and in outlying areas within the boundaries of the district from 8 PM to 10 PM.
For more information about the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District, visit http://colusamosquitoabatementdistrict.com/ or call (530) 458-4966.■