West Nile closing in on county | TheUnion.com

West Nile closing in on county

With Thursday’s confirmed death of an Orange County man from West Nile virus – and traces of the disease in Sacramento and Reno – Nevada County residents are being urged to take precautions as the disease moves upstate.

County Community Health Director Hank Foley said residents should get rid of any standing water from their properties, helping limit places where mosquitoes can breed. People should also wear long sleeves and pants in the evening to avoid bites from the disease-carrying pests.

Larry Sage, the county’s environmental health director, said residents should wear insect repellent with DEET and should try to avoid going outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most prevalent.

Touring your yard or property will turn up all kinds of standing water in tarps, dog bowls, wagons, flower pots and rain gutters that should be eliminated, Sage said. In those standing waters, mosquitoes can mature from egg to adult in 72 hours.

Reports of birds found with the mosquito-borne virus have come in from Sacramento and Butte counties and Carson City, Nev. A human case also has appeared in Reno. The Reno case involved a person under 50 who is believed to have contracted the disease while traveling in Louisiana, California or other states.

“We were hoping for another year before it got here, but it’s here,” Foley said.

Anyone with flu-like West Nile virus symptoms should contact a doctor, Foley said, “and horse owners should get their horses vaccinated.”

The California Department of Health Services said a test confirmed an Orange County man died from the disease in June and it is spreading up the state from its original outbreak in Southern California earlier this year.

Other counties where the virus has been found in birds include Tehama, Mendocino, Kings, San Diego, San Joaquin, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Tulare.

Eighty percent of humans who get West Nile virus do not notice it, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those infected generally have mild, flu-like symptoms, and less than 1 percent die.

Veterinarian Jason Shaver is a member of the Nevada County West Nile Task Force and is available for questions at 273-7511.

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