Patterson’s Angelo Bermudez discovered the dead bird in the back yard of his home at the end of Hillstock Ct. in eastern Patterson on Tuesday Aug. 12 after coming home from work.
“We’ve never seen a big dead bird like that before, and we live on the edge of town,” Bermudez said after receiving a call from Turlock Mosquito Abatement District Vector Biologist Monica Patterson on Wednesday Aug. 20.
The peculiarity of the situation immediately motivated Bermudez to call the abatement district’s hotline number to be used when dead birds are found.
He was asked if the bird appeared to have been dead within the past 24 hours, which Bermudez affirmed. Within an hour of Bermudez’ call a representative of the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District was on hand to remove the bird.
“We try to call back all participants to let them know either way,” said Turlock Mosquito Abatement’s Monica Patterson.
This isn’t the first time West Nile has been found in Patterson this year though, Patterson added. A sample from a mosquito trapped in one of two Patterson area locations came up positive for the virus back in early July.
Patterson went on to say that this is the 16th bird to test positive for West Nile Virus in Stanislaus County this year and the first for the city of Patterson. Sixty samples collected from within the county have also shown the virus.
The dead crow discovered by Bermudez prompted the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District to set up more traps in the Patterson area.
While abatement biologist Monica Patterson affirms the health hazards associated with West Nile virus are quite serious, she also added that this year has yet to produce the type of situation in the Patterson area as was two years ago when folks up and down the Westside were affected by the virus.
“The problem with these mild winters is that the virus is much more active across the State,” Patterson added.
One positive to California’s drought is there is less water in the area, and less opportunities for West Nile to spread as a result. Patterson added, however, that there are still problems with many neglected pools in the area though.
While cases have been handled all across the state, Stanislaus County, and the Central Valley in general, is a prime location for West Nile virus to show up according to a couple of factors.
First, the type of birds known to carry West Nile virus, such as crows, magpies, scrubjays, and sparrows, are right at home in the mild weather of the Central Valley.
And Second, the two types of mosquitoes that can transmit the virus, Culex Pipiens, and Culex Tarsalis, naturally call the valley home as well. Other areas along the coast are generally cooler in temperatures and it’s harder for West Nile virus to take hold there.
Ways to stay safe
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District has compiled a list of measures called the 5 D’s, that they want people to remember when going about their lives.
Dusk to dawn – Mosquitoes tend to be more active at dusk and dawn, if you can avoid being out at those times, please try and do so.
Deet- As kids are going to and from school and out to do sports, mosquito repellent with D.E.E.T. is an effective way to help repell mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are remain active in our area through October, or usually until the first cold snap.
District – The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District asks that you notify them if you have any concerns or questions.
Dead birds – Reporting dead birds by calling the dead bird hotline at 1-877-968-2473. Birds must be dead less than 24 hours in order to try and locate the virus. When the bird dies, so does the virus.
“We really want to encourage people to do their part in protecting themselves,” Patterson said.
West Nile virus is a neuro-invasive disease that has killed four people in Califonria this year, two of them being from Stanislaus County. Symptoms may include fever, headaches, fatique, muscle pain, aches, malaise, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, myalgias, and rash.
Elias Funez can be reached at 209-892-6187 ext: 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.