West Nile Fact vs. Fiction

Clerks at Environmental Health have been flooded with calls since the Washoe County confirmed its first case of West Nile Virus in a bird Tuesday afternoon. The calls can be frantic, or just someone seeking information.

If this is your first experience with West Nile Virus, it can be scary especially if you find a dead bird on your property.

Tracy Douglas from the Washoe Co. Health District says if the bird fits the "fresh" criteria you can call the Health Department and vector control will come pick it up. Keep in mind the disease is most common in magpies, jays, blue jays, crows, hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles. You cannot get the disease from the birds themselves nor from a cat or dog that comes in contact with the disease.

If you are infected from West Nile Virus you may experience mild flu like symptoms: a temperature, muscle ache, stiff neck, headache, and disorientation. There is no human vaccine for the disease, and treatment addresses only the symptoms not the disease.

Keep in mind only about one percent of those exposed to West Nile will develop the severe form of the disease. Precautions include wearing long sleeved shirt and pants, wearing mosquito killing repellant, getting rid of free standing water, and avoiding dawn and dusk as to that when mosquitoes like to feed.

If you call the Health Department about a dead bird, they'll want to know how long it’s been dead, what kind of bird it is, your name address and phone number along with your zip code.