West Nile confirmed in mosquitoes netted around Perris, San Jacinto

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus were recently netted in parts of central Riverside County -- in the same general area that a dead bird and dead chicken infected with the virus were located, health officials said today.

According to the Department of Environmental Health, a state-run lab confirmed that mosquito samples collected last week near Perris and in two locations within the city of San Jacinto tested positive for West Nile.

That follows the recent discovery of a dead sentinel chicken and a crow that had WNV. The crow was found in Banning; the chicken was found in the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, DEH officials said. Last month, mosquitoes netted in Moreno Valley tested positive for WNV.

There have been no reports of human infection regionally, though one human case has been confirmed in Sacramento County, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Last year, at least one county resident, a 52-year-old Riverside man, suffered WNV-related complications but recovered.

WNV infections are not uncommon in birds and chickens. In 2012, 63 chickens tested positive, according to the DEH.

Mosquitoes typically become carriers of WNV after feeding on an infected bird and can then spread the potentially lethal strain to animals and humans, according to health officials.

Symptoms may never materialize, but can include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. Fatal cases are rare. The last known WNV-related human fatality in Riverside County occurred in 2008.

Mosquito season in Southern California generally spans the months of May through October. To reduce exposure to WNV during this period, residents are urged to:

   -- spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most active;
   -- wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;
   -- use insect repellent;
   -- ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out; and
   -- get rid of standing water, aside from pools properly treated with chemicals.

The California Department of Public Health asks anyone who finds a dead crow, raven, magpie or jaybird to call the West Nile hotline: (877) 968-2473.

Anyone with concerns about WNV, mosquitoes, neglected pools or standing water can contact the Riverside County Vector Control program at (951) 766-9454.

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