By Contra Costa County Mosquito & Vector Control District staff
The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District is reporting that a stellar jay from Pleasant Hill has tested positive for West Nile virus. This confirmation this early in the season could mean a longer, more intense West Nile virus season. Last year, the District reported the first West Nile virus-positive dead bird on June 29.
"Mother Nature plays a significant role in virus risk," said Craig Downs, general manager for the District. "The mild winter has created a thriving environment for mosquitoes. We all need to be diligent about dumping out water where mosquitoes can live, such as rain gutters on houses, neglected swimming pools, boat covers, toys, even flower pot saucers can hold enough water to allow mosquitoes to thrive."
Residents are urged to continue to report dead birds to the West Nile Virus state hotline: 1-877-968-2473. Reports may also be made online at www.westnile.ca.gov. Dead bird reports are an important tool for West Nile virus detection, even if the bird is not picked up and tested. Lack of dead bird reports makes it harder for the District to identify higher risk locations.
The District makes every effort to notify residents about West Nile virus activity and adult mosquito spraying events. People wishing to be notified about adult mosquito spraying in residential areas have several options. They may visit the District's website and opt to receive the maps and notifications automatically by email.There is also an option to receive media releases and the Mosquito Bytes newsletter. These communications are posted directly on the District's website. Spray schedules are also available by calling the District at (925) 771-6195 and listening to a recorded message.
Residents are urged to help reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:
- Don't produce mosquitoes on your property. Dump or drain standing water. Mosquitoes can't begin their life without water.
- Defend yourself against mosquitoes using repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present, typically Dawn and Dusk.
- Report neglected swimming pools by calling 925-771-6195 or visiting www.ContraCostaMosquito.com Anonymous calls accepted. Just one neglected pool can produce more than 1 million mosquitoes and affect people up to five miles away.
Since 2005, 39 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. In 2006, two people died from the disease. Studies have shown that the majority of cases are undiagnosed.
Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, an independent special district and public health agency, is located at 155 Mason Circle in Concord. Call the District to report mosquito problems at (925) 771-6195 or visit their office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to get FREE mosquitofish for ornamental ponds, horse troughs or neglected swimming pools.
For information concerning human West Nile virus symptoms, prevention, or testing, please call the Contra Costa Health Services department at (888) 959-9911. For information concerning West Nile virus and horses, please call the California Department of Food and Agriculture Animal Health Branch at (916) 654-1447.