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Dead crow in county tests positive for West Nile

The Pierce County Public Health Department reports a dead crow found in the county on July 28 has tested positive for West Nile virus.

This is the first bird testing positive for West Nile virus in Pierce County since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.

“The positive bird means that residents of Pierce County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” Sue Galoff, health officer/director, said.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds.

“Pierce County residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” Galoff said. “The West Nile virus seems to be here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

The health department recommends the following:

--Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

--Apply insect repellant to clothing as well as exposed skin because mosquitoes may bite through clothing.

--Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.

--Properly dispose of items holding water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or discarded tires.

--Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.

--Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats and canoes when not in use.

--Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.

--Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.

--Trim tall grass, weeds and vines because mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

--Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

The majority of people (80 percent) who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue.

Less than one percent of people infected with the virus get seriously ill with symptoms including high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, mental confusion, tremors, confusion, paralysis and coma. Older adults (age 50+) and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing central nervous system illness that can be fatal.