Cotati, CA-The Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District (MSMVCD) announced the first sentinel chicken to test positive for antibodies to West Nile virus (WNV) in Sonoma County this year. The sentinel chicken that tested positive is from a flock that is located in the vicinity of Asti Road and Citrus Fair Drive in Cloverdale.
The District currently maintains sentinel chicken flocks in Marin and Sonoma counties as part of an integrated vector management program. Blood samples are collected every other week and submitted to the California Department of Public Health Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory, where they are tested for the presence of antibodies to WNV and other vector-borne diseases.
According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, horses are most at risk for contracting WNV when mosquito activity is highest, typically during July through October. Horse owners, especially in the area where the chicken tested positive, are urged to contact their veterinarians to ensure their equine vaccinations are current.
Horse owners should consult a veterinarian if their horse exhibits any of the following signs:
- Incoordination, especially in rear limbs, causing stumbling and falling
- Generalized weakness, muscle twitching, seizures or coma
- Drooping lips and lip smacking, head drooping, grinding teeth
- Hypersensitivity to touch or sound
- Recumbency (inability to rise)
Simple ways to protect your horses against WNV:
- Maintain current vaccination status, including WNV.
- Place fans inside barns and stalls to maintain air movement, as mosquitoes cannot fly well in wind.
- Stock water troughs, ponds or other permanent water features with mosquitofish. The fish are free and can be delivered or picked up at the District office.
- Use equine-approved mosquito repellents and/or protective horse gear such as fly sheets, masks, and leg wraps.
- Check septic tank lids to ensure a tight seal and repair any visible cracks.
- Screen septic tank vent pipes using a fine mesh screen.
- Eliminate standing water in rain barrels, old tires, buckets, kiddie pools or any other item that can hold water for more than 72 hours.
- Report mosquito problems, neglected swimming pools, or any area that could be producing mosquitoes at www.msmosquito.com or 1-800-231-3236.
2014 West Nile virus activity:
Marin County: 3 dead birds and 3 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus to date.
Sonoma County: 12 dead birds, 1 sentinel chicken and 4 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus to date.