Two dead birds — one from the Tucker’s Grove Park area near Goleta, one from Santa Ynez — tested positive Monday for West Nile virus infection following examination by the California Department of Public Health’s Dead Bird West Nile Virus Detection Program. As stated in a press release from public health agency the Mosquito and Vector Management District of Santa Barbara County (MVMDSBC), West Nile virus, which is usually passed between birds and mosquitos, was also detected in mosquitos near Lake Los Carneros earlier this year.
As a result, MVMDSBC is increasing mosquito detection and mosquito larval reduction procedures in Santa Barbara County. In addition, the mosquito district will investigate dead bird reports when the Dead Bird West Nile Virus Detection Program closes in winter.
West Nile virus infection, transmitted through mosquito bites, causes flu-like symptoms in about one in five people who are infected and doesn’t pass from human-to-human. Less than 1% of those infected develop serious neurological illnesses like meningitis or encephalitis, according to MVMDSBC’s press release. However, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems are more susceptible to such illnesses.
Residents are advised to avoid being outside at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active, and to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, and mosquito repellant. Residents should also make sure their window screens are tight-fitting and in good condition, and that they’ve removed stagnant water from their property. Horses, who can also become infected through mosquito bites, may be vaccinated at the veterinarian’s office.