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West Nile virus: 10 more birds found dead in Bay Area

September 22, 2011 |  9:32 am

West Nile virus, Santa Cruz Island
Ten more birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in the San Francisco Bay Area, Contra Costa vector control officials said this week.

This brings the total number of birds found with West Nile virus in Contra Costa County to 25, said a spokeswoman for the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District.

One bird was collected from Walnut Creek, two from Pleasant Hill, four from Concord, one from Lafayette and two from Brentwood in Contra Costa County.

Dead bird reports are an important tool for West Nile virus detection, even if the bird is not picked up and tested, because it allows officials to locate West Nile hot spots, said Deborah Bass, public affairs manager for the Contra Costa district.

"Our surveillance of the area coupled with the public reporting of dead birds has enabled us to locate these areas of higher risk of West Nile virus where we can concentrate our mosquito control efforts," Bass said in a statement.

West Nile virus, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by mosquito bites, is also spreading in birds and mosquitoes in Los Angeles County, with recent activity in the San Fernando Valley, the eastern San Gabriel Valley and southeast L.A. County.

Two dead virus-infected birds were found in Hacienda Heights and Winnetka, while two infected-mosquito samples were collected from Woodland Hills and Pico Rivera, according to the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

Since August, West Nile virus has been found in Encino, Whittier, Long Beach, Cerritos, La Mirada, Glendale, Santa Fe Springs, Encino, Norwalk, Granada Hills, Downey, Newhall, La Habra Heights, Panorama City, Canyon Country, Reseda, South El Monte and Rowland Heights.

California residents are urged to report dead birds to the West Nile Virus state hotline at (877) 968-2473. Reports also may be made online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

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-- From a Times staff writer

Photo: An island scrub jay last year on Santa Cruz Island, where scientists are worried that West Nile virus could destroy this rare species. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.

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