Dead bird in South City was West Nile carrier

The start of West Nile virus season was marked by the county’s first reported case of the rare but potentially fatal human disease this year in a dead bird found in the Industrial City.

The dead bird was found by a resident in South San Francisco on May 15 and was taken by authorities to the <a title=”California Department of Health Services” href=”/Subject-California_Department_of_Health_Services.html” target=”_blank” onClick=”var s=s_gi('examinercom'); s.tl(this,'o','Entity Link'); ” >California Department of Health Services. The state agency determined Wednesday that the bird died from the West Nile virus, officials said.

After a total of two birds and a squirrel tested positive for the disease last year in San Carlos and San Mateo, the South City bird was the first infected animal found in 2008, said Chindi Peavey, vector ecologist for the county Mosquito and Vector Control District.

No human in the county has ever contracted the disease, which is typically transferred through infected mosquito bites, Peavey said.

If infected, humans can suffer severe headache, fever, chills, muscle weakness and can even enter a coma or, in rare cases, die.

“It’s nothing for people to panic about,” Peavey said. “Every year we get a few positive West Nile virus birds.”

Mosquito-catching devices will be placed around the area where the bird was found. The traps are one-quart vacuum flasks, underneath which hangs a battery-operated motor. The flask contains dry ice that emits carbon dioxide, tricking the mosquitoes into thinking it is a person.

When the bugs enter the flask, they get sucked through a three-foot tube and into a bag. Typically, 30 of those devices are hung on trees around the county twice per week.

The district also has technicians that spray and drop pellets and briquettes containing nontoxic, mosquito-specific bacteria in areas prone to the insects.

Typically, West Nile virus season begins in summer, Peavey said. The most common birds that acquire the virus are ravens, crows and blue jays.

Some other animals can become infected as well, but the only common one is a squirrel.

The Mosquito and Vector Control District relies on residents to report potentially infected species.

The district advises residents to call (877) WNV-BIRD if they find a dead bird or squirrel so it can be tested.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalneighborhoods

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Crowded neighborhoods left out of Slow Streets

Tenderloin, SoMa seen as bad fit for car-free program

Parents press for in-person options, better distance learning as Board of Education weighs fall plans

With distance learning looking likely to continue in the fall semester, some… Continue reading

City attorney seeks to block contractor in Nuru scandal from obtaining government contracts

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has moved to prohibit AzulWorks, Inc. and its… Continue reading

Supes approve $2.1M settlement over sewage spills at SF’s Hall of Justice jail

San Francisco has tentatively agreed to pay out a total of $2.1… Continue reading

US backs down in fight with Harvard, MIT over student visas

The U.S. backed down from a high-profile confrontation with two elite universities… Continue reading

Most Read