West Nile Virus Activity Gains Momentum

Release date: 
Aug 5

Cotati, CA-  The Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District confirmed today that three dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in Sonoma County. Lab tests showed that they were recently infected with the virus. The first two birds, both American crows, were collected from Santa Rosa, one near Midway Drive and the other in the vicinity of Aptos Court. The third bird, a barn owl, was found near Scriver Court in Cotati. 

Historically, Marin and Sonoma counties have had a lower incidence of West Nile virus activity than many other counties in California, however that doesn't mean residents aren't at risk. 

"The virus is here, it is endemic to the area, and it takes only one bite from an infected mosquito to contract West Nile virus," stated Nizza Sequeira, Public Relations Director for the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District.

"Most people associate being bitten by mosquitoes with camping or other outdoor recreational activities, however you could be bitten by a mosquito anywhere, even in your own backyard," stated Sequeira.

Residents are encouraged to take personal protection measures seriously and to apply these measures when engaging in all outdoor activities. Also, residents should perform a weekly check around their property and remove standing water.

Ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes and West Nile virus:

Reduce outdoor exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Limit outdoor activities during peak mosquito activity (dawn and dusk).
  • Properly use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus (always read the label carefully).
  • Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and long pants.

Reduce indoor exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Keep doors and windows closed whenever possible.
  • Check and maintain all window and door screens.

Prevent mosquitoes from breeding near your home:

  • Flip, dump or drain all temporary sources of standing water.
  • 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 a week.
  • Stock backyard ponds or other permanent water features with mosquitofish. The fish are free and can be delivered or simply picked up at the District office.
  • Call Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District if you have a mosquito-related problem that you cannot resolve on your own.

Report dead birds:

  • Reporting dead birds can help the District detect West Nile virus activity. 
  • Click here to watch a short video about what to do if you find a dead bird. 
  • Residents who find dead birds are encouraged to report them to the West Nile virus hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or online at  www.westnile.ca.gov.

Stay Informed:

  • Residents interested in staying informed about District activities are encouraged to follow MSMVCD on twitter and facebook.  

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the disease to humans and other animals.

Less than 1% of people (1 in 150) infected with WNV develop serious illness. These cases may last for extended periods of time, result in permanent neurological damage and may be fatal. Approximately 20% of people (about 1 in 5) infected with WNV experience mild symptoms that may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, rashes, swollen lymph nodes and vomiting. Approximately 80% of people (about 4 out of 5) infected with WNV do not show any symptoms.