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West Nile virus hits the North Coast, first case in five years

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EUREKA- Local residents are being asked by the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services to be on the lookout for mosquito infested areas and for small dead animals after a confirmed case of West Nile Virus was found in a crow. It has been five years since the county has seen the West Nile virus, but across the state there has already been 124 new dead bird cases within the past week. 
 
"2008 was the last positive and we have had no confirmed reported illnesses for humans," said Director Melissa Martel of Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Division of Environmental Health.
 
According to the CDC 59 people in California have tested positive, that is up eighteen cases compared to last year's numbers. Martel said, “If we start having cases where it is actually affecting humans, I would definitely be more concerned” said Fortuna resident Jason Nichols.
 
“People in Humboldt county should not be concerned. We are seeing a larger prevalence of West Nile in central and southern California," she said. It could be due to the weather we have on the North Coast, Martel said people living in warmer climates tend to see the virus more,
 
"We have a cooler climate here in the coastal area so we have a lower incidence because disease transmission is not as common."
 
"It is concerning but it does not seem to be a big problem here right now,” said Nichols. Even though the count is low in Humboldt County, officials believe it is still a good idea to be aware. Standing water is a common breeding area for mosquitos and Martel recommends to mosquito-proof your home by emptying any sitting water in flower pots, gutters, or bird baths.
 
"I do have a pool in my backyard and i change the water every couple of days just so that it doesn't get dirty but also to prevent the bugs” said Eureka resident Mary Grounds.
 
Another way to prevent mosquito bites is to cover up. "EPA registered insecticides are good, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, shoes and socks, avoid dusk and dawn” said Martel.
 
To report dead birds call the California West Nile Virus Surveillance Program hotline at 1-877-968-2473 or for more information about the virus log on to westnile.ca.gov.