The Mono County Health Department was informed late last week that a Swainson’s Hawk picked up in Topaz has tested positive for West Nile Virus infection. The sick hawk was taken to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, where it died on Aug. 24.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Dr. Richard Johnson, Mono County Health Officer, said this is the first positive confirmation of the presence of the virus in Mono County this year. So far this year, 10 other dead birds have been reported to the state from Mono County, one of which was tested and was negative for the West Nile Virus. Two birds were reported from areas along the Hwy 6 corridor, with the rest coming from south county communities along US 395.
Across the state, 35 human cases of WNV have been identified, along with 12 cases in horses. The presence of West Nile Virus activity in humans, horses, dead birds, tree squirrels, mosquito pools or sentinel chickens has been reported in 31 counties, including Mono County.
Around the country, 177 human cases have been reported from 25 states, with the only three fatalities occurring in Arizona. Residents and visitors are urged to be diligent in protecting themselves and family members from mosquito bites. Most individuals who are infected with WNV will not experience any illness. Recent data indicate that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.
Even though the mosquito population has decreased, the days are shorter, and the nights are colder, don’t let your guard down!
The most effective ways for persons to prevent WNV are: eliminate standing water on their property, which is where mosquitoes breed, make sure that door and window screens are installed and in good condition, when outdoors, use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, and avoid being outdoors during dusk and dawn and wear long sleeves and long pants while outside.
For more information on WNV and to report dead birds, visit www.westnile.ca.gov or call toll-free 877.WNV.BIRD. For local information, contact the Mono County Health Department at 760.924.1830. –Sheet Staff/Mono County Health Dept.