Contra Costa County residents are being reminded to take precautions against mosquitoes as a growing number of dead birds and mosquitoes countywide are testing positive for West Nile virus.
Two dead birds found in Walnut Creek and Bethel Island and three chickens found in the Holland Tract near Brentwood have tested positive for the virus over the past week. That brings the total number of dead birds and chickens found with the disease in the county this year to 15, according to data from the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District.
District spokeswoman Deborah Bass said the dead birds that test positive for the virus “serve as early warning systems that alert us to virus transmission.”
Birds serve as reservoirs for the West Nile virus, since mosquitoes that bite infected birds can then bite humans.
While most humans who contract the virus show no symptoms, some people can experience symptoms including fever, head and body aches, fatigue and swollen lymph glands. In rare cases, the illness can be deadly.
District officials ask residents to help protect themselves and those around them by removing mosquito magnets such as neglected swimming pools and dumping or draining any standing water. People can also defend themselves by wearing mosquito repellent and avoiding being outside at dawn and dusk, when the pests are most prevalent.
The public is also asked to report dead birds, which can then be tested for the virus, to the state hotline at 877-968-2473 or at www.westnile.ca.gov.
Contra Costa County residents can report neglected swimming pools at 925-771-6195.