A dead bird found in Woodside that tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV) on June 11 is San Mateo County's first reported case of 2012, according to the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District (MVCD).
Over the previous eight years, from 2004 to 2011, only 50 cases were reported in the County, in 38 dead birds and 12 squirrels.
To date in 2012, WNV has been detected in 16 counties across California.
The virus is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito, according to the MVCD. The primary hosts are birds. However, the virus can be contracted by humans, horses and other animals if bitten by an infected mosquito.
The disease cannot be transmitted from human to human.
“The first West Nile-positive bird of the season is an important reminder that West Nile Virus is still present in San Mateo County,” said Angie Nakano, acting laboratory director for the San Mateo County MVCD. “West Nile Virus activity may increase as we head into the summer months, and it is important for residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
The San Mateo County MVCD controls mosquitoes through an integrated mosquito control program that targets the immature stages, which breed in standing water, Nakano said.
“Our vector control technicians are in the field every day, finding and treating sources of mosquito breeding across the county,” she confirmed.
Reports of dead birds are an early indication that the virus is circulating in the environment. Residents are encouraged to help by reporting fresh carcasses of birds or tree squirrels to the West Nile virus hotline, online at www.westnile.ca.gov or by phone at 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473).
To prevent mosquito breeding on your property and to prevent mosquito bites, the MVCD asks residents to follow the “Three D’s”:
- DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters, pet bowls and the like.
- DAWN and DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out as well.
- DEET– Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
For assistance with a mosquito problem in San Mateo County, contact the San Mateo County MVCD at 650-344-8592.
For more information on West Nile Virus and other district services, visit www.smcmad.org.