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More birds die of virus

If you had any question about whether West Nile virus had really spread into Nevada County, little doubt should remain now.

Thursday, the county Department of Environmental Health received confirmation from the state that three dead birds from western Nevada County and one near Truckee tested positive for the virus.

That brings the total number of West Nile-positive dead birds confirmed in Nevada County to seven.



“There’s still four birds out there (undergoing state tests),” said Larry Sage, the county’s environmental health director. “It takes about two weeks to get the results back.”

The newest positive birds were a sharp-shinned hawk from the Nevada City area, two western scrub-jays from the Grass Valley and Penn Valley areas, and a red-tailed hawk from the Truckee area.




In August, the state confirmed West Nile in a yellow-billed magpie found in Rough and Ready and a Steller’s jay found in Truckee. Another Steller’s jay was confirmed out of Truckee between then and this week’s announcement, Sage said.

With the confirmations, it is apparent the virus is established throughout the county.

“We haven’t had any local (human) illnesses so far,” Sage said. But his office was encouraging residents to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Those people at highest risk of serious illness are people over the age of 50 and especially those that have a compromised immune system.

West Nile is one of a group of disease-causing viruses spread by mosquitoes. It is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not spread person to person.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile when they feed on infected birds. Most people who are bitten by a mosquito with West Nile will not get sick. Of those who do, about two in 10 will develop an illness that is similar to a bad flu.

About one in 150 people infected will develop serious nervous system disease. There is no treatment or human vaccine for the virus. West Nile has been found in 53 of the 58 counties in California.

Mosquito fish available

If you have a pond, a mosquito fish giveaway sponsored by the Nevada County West Nile Virus Task Force will take place from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, at the Nevada County Resource Conservation District office; 113 Presley Way, Suite No. 1, Grass Valley, directly across from the golf course.

In Truckee, the fish will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, at the Joseph Government Building, across from the hospital.

Mosquito fish are in the same family as guppies. They are small and only grow up to three inches in length and feed on anything smaller than they are.

The fish prefer water temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, broods of 40 to 300 live young may be produced every three weeks. These fish occupy the shallow shore edges and usually live about three years.

West Nile hotline

To report dead birds, call the toll-free national West Nile hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD, or visit http://westnile.ca.gov/ deadbird.cfm


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