Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mass Bird Die-Off & Dead Birds Infected With West Nile Virus.

Dead bird in Modesto tests positive for West Nile

By Patty Guerra

last updated: June 01, 2012 11:33:44 PM
Culex Pipeins or more commonly known as a house mosquito carries the West Nile Virus in the the Modesto area. Culex Pipeins is the culpret ESMAD is primarily targeting. (Photo courtesy the East Side Mosquito Abatement District) -  -
Culex Pipeins or more commonly known as a house mosquito carries the West Nile Virus in the the Modesto area. Culex Pipeins is the culpret ESMAD is primarily targeting. (Photo courtesy the East Side Mosquito Abatement District) - -
For the first time this year, a dead bird in Stanislaus County has tested positive for West Nile virus. The bird found in Modesto had the virus, Stanislaus County health officials announced Friday.
"This finding is sort of the sentinel event for us," said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County public health officer. "We are right on the doorstep of the beginning of the season."
As of Thursday, officials said, the virus has been detected in 10 other California counties and confirmed in 19 dead birds and six mosquito samples. That includes two birds in San Joaquin County.
It has not been detected in horses or humans.
"This early season concerns me," San Joaquin County health officer Dr. Karen Furst said. "Most people are not thinking about mosquitoes now."
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals — often horses — through the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Hot weather, abandoned swimming pools and standing water create ideal conditions for the development of mosquitoes and the subsequent spread of the virus.
Most people who are infected will not experience any illness. About one in five will develop West Nile fever, with symptoms of headache, fever and fatigue. However, some individuals — fewer than 1 percent — will develop serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Older adults and those with compromised immune systems, such as diabetes patients, have the highest risk of becoming ill and developing complications.
Walker said the Central Valley has been a hotbed for the virus, which has become "endemic" — meaning it's here to stay.
"Our observation is that our county residents are letting their guard down as if the storm has passed," Walker said. "In 2005, we had an epidemic where we had more than 80 cases in our county. Since then, we have had decreases, but we're at a fairly steady point during the past four years."
In 2011, five people became ill to varying degrees with West Nile virus. How many human cases the county has in any particular year is impossible to say because so many people don't get symptoms, or just think they have the flu because the symptoms go away.
But for others, particularly older folks, the virus is dangerous. And because there's no vaccine for it, the best measures to take are those that fight mosquitoes. Walker advised people to wear mosquito repellent, preferably one containing DEET, whenever they're outside.
"It's most important at two times of day, at dawn and dusk," he said. "Those are when mosquitoes are most active in the environment."
He suggested runners out in the early morning wear long-sleeved shirts. And he advised caution for those attending Modesto Nuts or Little League baseball games.
"I'm very concerned especially for the grandparents who may be going to the games and watching their little ones play," he said.
Walker reiterated the annual warning about standing water; it only takes a small area of stagnant water to encourage mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
"It's surprising how little it takes for the eggs to grow," he said, warning residents to check water in places such as piles of old tires as well as splash pools and abandoned swimming pools in the neighborhood.
"The most serious threat in our community is neglected swimming pools," Walker said.
Walker said the season has been extending beyond the traditional summer months, with several cases reported after Labor Day last year. So throughout the summer and into the fall, it's important for residents to stay vigilant.
"The numbers (in the county) have been 20 or fewer cases," he said. "But because this disease is so serious and because it is preventable, we'd love to see it go to zero."
The Record (Stockton) contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at or (209) 578-2343.


• About one in five people infected will have fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting or swollen lymph glands, lasting a few days to several weeks.
• One in 150 of those infected suffer a debilitating attack, with fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, severe weakness, tremors, coma and paralysis. This form of the illness can be fatal or cause long-term neurological effects.
• Use insect repellent with DEET when outdoors; wear long sleeves and long pants.
• Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
• Put screens on windows and doors.
• Empty standing water (in flower pots, buckets, empty tires, barrels or rain gutters).
• Change water regularly in pet dishes and birdbaths.
• Keep wading pools empty and on their sides when not in use.
• Report unusually high numbers of mosquitoes, as well as dead birds.
• East Side Mosquito Abatement District: (209) 522-4098
• Turlock Mosquito Abatement District: (209) 634-1234
• Merced Mosquito Abatement District: (209) 722-1527
• San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District: (209) 982-4675 or (800) 300-4675
To report dead birds or squirrels:
• Toll-free state hot line at (877) 968-2473, or visit Don't touch dead animals.
For more information:
• Call the West Nile virus hot line at (209) 558-8425 to hear recorded information in English and Spanish. You also can visit

West Nile Virus Activity Increases in Sacramento County as More Dead Birds and Mosquito Samples Test Positive

June 4, 2012

Wet weather will increase stagnant water and mosquito sources

Elk Grove, Calif.— The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito &Vector Control District announced
today that further evidence of West Nilevirus activity has been detected throughout
Sacramento County as  32 new mosquito samples and 4 birds  have tested
positive for the disease. The birds and mosquito samples have been collected from
different areas in SacramentoCounty but especially focused in communities near Gerber
and Calvine Rd.  “We’re very concerned about the level of intense activity we’re seeing
this season” said David Brown, District Manager. “While it’s not uncommon to find
widespread areas with dead birds and mosquito samples in August, finding virus activity
in June is certainly earlier than anything we’ve seen in recent years and we urge
residents to take these early indications seriously” he added. West Nile virus activity was
also detected last week in the city of Davis in Yolo County as dead birds and mosquito
samples also tested positive.

The increased activity comes as the region is getting a late rain storm which will create
even more aquatic sites capable of producing mosquitoes. “The excess water will
increase mosquito habitats. Now more than ever we need everyone to do their part and
drain mosquito breeding sources in their back yard” said Brown. “As the warming trend
continues for the remainder of the week, the virus will likely amplify and the risk of human
transmission will increase” said Brown.

In response to the recent findings, the District has started ground fogging around areas
where positive mosquitoes and birds have been found.
For current information about any treatments planned, please visit Residents may also subscribe to receive email notifications for
mosquito treatments by zip code.  To sign up go to Spray Notifications on the website.

2012 West Nilevirus activity update:
Level  2–Sacramento County: 23 dead birds and  42 mosquito samples have tested
positive for West Nile virus to date.
Level 2–Yolo County:  2 dead birds and 2 mosquito samples has tested positive for
West Nile virus to date


The Department of Sustainability and Environment has urged people not to feed native birds after hundreds were found dead in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
File Photo.
The suspected cause was bacterial bowel infection necrotic enteritis. DSE biodiversity incident planning officer Kirsty Greengrass said the infection was easily spread. 

“The disease is spread through droppings from sick birds and a single sick bird can easily pass it on to healthy birds congregating at feed sites,” Ms Greengrass said. 

Birds have enough natural food available. Dead birds should be disposed of by using a plastic bag as a glove, then double bagged and put in the bin. Birds should not be buried because dogs or cats may dig them up. - Maroondah Leader.

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