‘Early warning sign’ of West Nile virus: First bird tests positive in Sacramento County

From the Sacramento Bee
July 8, 2019

The first bird of the season has tested positive for West Nile virus in Sacramento County, and officials said they are on alert for the mosquito-borne disease that killed 11 people and infected more than 200 in California last year.

A yellow-billed magpie found dead last week near Elverta in north Sacramento County tested positive for the virus, the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District confirmed Monday in a news release.

“Finding the first positive bird is always significant because it provides an early warning sign for the disease,” said Gary Goodman, manager of the district, which covers Sacramento and Yolo counties. “It confirms that the virus is present, provides a good indication of where we may find positive mosquito samples and where human cases may develop later in the season.”

Other California counties have started to register activity, too, according to the California West Nile virus website “Fight the Bite.” Possibly the first reported human case of West Nile in the state was confirmed near Modesto this June. This year, 471 mosquito samples from 10 counties have tested positive for the virus. Monday afternoon, the latest mosquito sample collected in Olivehurst in Yuba County also tested positive.

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