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West Nile-infected bird found

By: Josh Fernandez The Press Tribune
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Last week, a bird in East Sacramento tested positive for the West Nile virus. But don’t panic. While it’s the first West Nile bird of the year for the Sacramento area, there is good news, which is the bird will help experts find the virus before it finds you. “Dead birds provide an early indication of where the virus is hiding,” said Joel Buettner, district manager for the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District in a press release. “It is important for us to find these birds in order to increase surveillance in areas where the virus may be carried by infected mosquitoes.” The West Nile Virus is described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a potentially serious illness – transmitted through infected mosquitoes, transfusions, transplants and mother-to-child – that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. Last year in Placer County, four birds tested positive for West Nile, but there were no human or equine cases, said Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District spokeswoman Ada Barros. In humans, an infection with the virus can be asymptomatic (no symptoms) to severe, which can include headache, high fever, stupor, disorientation, coma and paralysis. Some 20 percent of people infected with West Nile get mild symptoms. About one in 50 get a severe case. About four out of five people don’t get any symptoms at all. So, if you see a dead bird, the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District urges citizens to report it by calling the California Department of Public Health hotline at (877) 968-2473. Not all birds called in will be picked up and tested, but the reports provide valuable information. Josh Fernandez can be reached at joshf@goldcountrymedia.com.