Seven chickens from sentinel flocks in San Bernardino County have recently tested positive for the West Nile Virus, marking the first reported local cases in 2017.
In addition to the chickens found in Fontana and San Bernardino, 14 mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in the Redlands and Rialto areas, according to officials with the County Department of Public Health.
The chickens are not harmed by the infection and they are used to identify when the mosquitos in the surrounding area are infected with the virus.
“Mosquitoes are carriers of West Nile Virus and become infected when they feed on infected birds in the area,” Department of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Services Mosquito and Vector Control Program Coordinator Morena Garcia said. “Infected mosquitoes may spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.”
Notwithstanding the chicken’s immune system, the human body and other animals may feel flu-like symptoms of fever, body aches, skin rash and fatigue if bitten by an infected mosquito.
In worst cases, those infected have developed West Nile Fever, which can lead to a more severe form of the disease.
“Approximately 80 percent of people who are bitten are asymptomatic (no symptoms of West Nile Virus), with 19 percent developing the symptoms of WNV,” Garcia said. “About 1 percent of people who develop the serious neuroinvasive form of the disease may lead to permanent neurological damage and sometimes death.”
Steps to help prevent the virus from spreading include removing all standing water around your property where mosquitoes can lay eggs such as birdbaths, green swimming pools, ponds, old tires, buckets, flower pots, clogged gutters and puddles from leaky sprinklers.
Seeing that the mosquitoes become infected through surrounding birds, it is recommended to report local dead birds local health officials..
Although the West Nile Virus was first reported in California 15 years ago, it has yet to reach Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia or the Barstow area, according to area health officials.
For more information or to report to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Division of Environmental Health Services Mosquito and Vector Control Program, call 1-800-442-2283 or visit wp.sbcounty.gov/dph/programs/ehs/mosquito-vector-control/.