Dead bird in Northwest Fresno tests positive for West Nile Vires

FRESNO, Calif.

Stonebridge Homeowner's Association President Helen Smades says they have advised the residents to avoid the outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active, and to use bug spray and mosquito repellent when outdoors.

It all started last week, when a dead bird was found inside the gated community and tested positive for West Nile Virus.

"We're telling people, if you have any flu like symptoms – headaches, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting – immediately call your doctor," Smades said.

Tim Phillips of the Fresno Mosquito and Vector Control District says residents turned in more than one bird, but they could only test one of them, a crow. Phillips said it was likely bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.

What Phillips couldn't say was if the bird was bitten by a mosquito while in Stonebridge, or if it was bitten somewhere else.

"We're hoping the mosquito that bit the crow is not from Stonebridge," Smades said.

Mosquito Control has two Mosquito traps installed in the neighborhood. Officials plan to catch some of the bugs and test them for West Nile.

Phillips says there are three confirmed human cases of West Nile in Fresno County this year. There are also 10 confirmed cases of the virus in dead birds. Phillips says that California is seeing high numbers of West Nile but Fresno County's numbers are down from last year.

Phillips believes that's because there are fewer mosquitos in the county because the area has seen very dry conditions.

"A lot of the things that would be filled by rain were dry," Phillips said, referring to pockets of standing water that would allow mosquitos to breed. "So we didn't get a lot of the populations."

He also said there were two other dead birds found in Fresno County last week that tested positive for West Nile, but says the numbers are not anything unusual.

Stonebridge is a community with multiple lakes, fountains and swimming pools. Residents say their waters are well-kept to prevent mosquitos from breeding in them. They also say they've never noticed mosquitos in their neighborhood, that's why the current situation is a shock.

"The majority of us are seniors," Smades said. "We are more susceptible (to West Nile)."

There have been 101 humans, eight horses, 982 dead birds, 316 chickens and seven squirrels that tested positive for West Nile in California this year. More than 2,000 mosquito samples sent to health officials came up positive for West Nile. Fifty-Four of those mosquito samples came from Fresno County.

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