Eight dead birds recently tested positive for West Nile virus, the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District announced. Infected American Crows were found in Danville twice this week.
Birds are the reservoir for West Nile virus; people can become infected when a mosquito bites a bird and then a person. An infected bird was found on Greenbrook Drive at Camino Ramon on July 31 and on July 29. Other birds four American crows and two Western scrub-jays were found in Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Pittsburg and Walnut Creek.
"It only takes one bite to get West Nile virus from an infected mosquito and anyone of any age can get this disease," said Deborah Bass, public affairs manager for the district.
Mild West Nile virus symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can last only a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks. Severe West Nile virus can be fatal. Since 2005, 42 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus; two people died from the disease in 2006.
"Contracting the virus is largely preventable by taking simple, but very important precautions," Bass said. "They are worth the time. In the words of a local survivor of the disease, having West Nile virus is like 'having the flu, polio, and a stroke at the same time.' "
During the 2013 mosquito season, a total of four groups of mosquitoes and 19 dead birds have tested positive for the virus.
Residents are urged to help reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:
* Dump or drain standing water. Mosquitoes can't begin their life without water.
* Defend yourself against mosquitoes using repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
* Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present, typically dawn and dusk.
* Report neglected swimming pools by calling 771-6195 or visiting www.ContraCostaMosquito.com. Anonymous calls accepted.
The district reminds residents that one neglected pool can produce more than 1 million mosquitoes and affect people up to five miles away.