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article imagePotentially deadly virus arrives in Northern California county

By Nathan Salant     May 21, 2014 in Health
Fairfield - Evidence of West Nile virus has been found for the first time this year in Northern California's Solano County, signaling the start of the mosquito-borne virus season.
Health officials in Solano, a mostly rural county in the northeastern San Francisco Bay Area, confirmed Tuesday that they had found a dead crow that tested positive for West Nile virus.
West Nile is a potentially fatal virus transmitted by mosquito bites, although fewer than 1 percent of people affected develop life-threatening symptoms, officials said.
Only 20 percent of people bitten by infected mosquitos develop any symptoms at all, and primarily headaches, fever and skin rashes.
“This is the first evidence that we have of local WNV activity in Solano County this year,” said Dr. Michael Stacey, the county's chief medical officer.
“We have not had any reported cases of WNV infection in humans so far this year," he said.
The finding, which makes Solano the seventh California county to report West Nile virus activity this year, was confirmed by the county's Mosquito Abatement District (SCMAD) and Department of Health and Social Services (SCDHSS), officials said.
Last year, 379 human cases of West Nile virus were reported in California, with 15 deaths.
There was one reported human case of West Nile virus infection in Solano County last year, officials said.
“This serves as a reminder to the community that we need to follow simple precautions to ensure that we protect ourselves against mosquito bites and reduce our risk of infection”, Stacey said.
Stacey recommended that Solano residents limit their outdoor activities in early morning and evening hours, when mosquitoes are most active, and to wear long sleeves and pants and use insect repellant when they are outside.
Around the house, residents should eliminate standing water on their properties, including in rain gutters, buckets, flower pots, old car tires and pet bowls.
Residents with ornamental ponds can request free mosquito fish from the abatement district at (707) 437-1116.
Residents also were reminded to ensure that their windows and doors are secured with tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out, and to fix or replace screens with tears of holes.
People most at risk for the virus are those 50 and older and those with diabetes or hypertension.
“We utilize all the tools that we have in order to control the mosquito populations throughout the County; however, I would like to emphasize the availability of effective mosquito repellents and encourage residents to use them on a regular basis,” abatement district manager Jon Blegen said.
Residents can report unmaintained swimming pools or other standing-water hazards by calling (707) 437-1116.
“Solano County residents can assist us by reporting dead birds and squirrels,” Stacey said.
Anyone who sees a dead bird or squirrel should report the location by calling 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or making a report online at [url=http://www.westnile.ca.gov]www.westnile.ca.gov.
More about Solano County, Virus, West nile, California, northern california
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