ALAMO — A dead bird found in Alamo has tested positive for West Nile virus, the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District reports.

The Western scrub jay is the first documented bird to test positive for the virus in Contra Costa County this year, according to the district. The bird was reported on June 28 and confirmed positive for the virus on Wednesday. Earlier this year, some mosquito samples tested positive for the virus, but the bird is the first evidence of transmission in the county this season.

Residents are urged to report all dead birds to the West Nile virus hot line at 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

District officials say dead bird reports help pinpoint virus activity and allow their workers to concentrate their surveillance and control efforts. Not all birds can be picked up for testing, but reports remain crucial to mosquito control efforts.

Most people bitten by a mosquito with the virus will not get sick, according to the district. However, up to 20 percent of the population infected with it will get West Nile fever. That causes mild to severe flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body ache and possible paralysis.

Less than 1 percent of infected people will need hospitalization. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to illness and death.


Advertisement

The district is recommending several precautions, including use of a repellent with an effective active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, getting rid of standing water that may create mosquito-breeding habitats, making sure door and window screens are in good repair, staying inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and wearing long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are around. The district also recommends vaccinating horses.

Meanwhile, the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District reports the first case of the virus in Alameda County this year was linked to three dead crows found in June in Livermore. The Alameda County district predicted the Tri-Valley area, being the warmest part of the county, will be the focus of virus infections this year.

Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or elouie@bayareanewsgroup.com