Q. How do I get a bird tested for West Nile Virus? A.Currently Siskiyou County is no longer able to pick up dead birds for
West Nile surveillance. However, we will test dead birds that
individuals pick up and deliver to the Health Department. The following
criteria must be used if a bird is to be tested.
Bird must be dead less than 24 hours with no ants or maggots present.
Place dead bird in a plastic bag and refrigerate, or on ice.
Use gloves when handling bird.
Q. What do I do if I cannot transport the bird to the Health Department,
or I do not want it tested? A. If you do not wish to have bird tested, or cannot transport it to the
Yreka office, dispose of bird in garbage. Avoid contact with the bird by
using gloves or a shovel.
You may also report the dead bird by using the "Begin Online Report"
button on the Official California West Nile Virus Website:
Make sure all fields are completed and then submit.
Q. What do I do about dead or dying chickens? A. Dead or dying chicken calls should be referred to: 1-800-491-1899
Q. How can I decrease my risk of getting West Nile Virus? A. To avoid or decrease risk of acquiring West Nile Virus, Siskiyou
County Public Health Department advises the public to:
Avoid outside activity at dawn and dusk during May through October.
Especially the elderly and small children.
Wear protective clothing (long pants and long sleeves) and apply
insect repellant which contains DEET when outside.
Make sure that doors and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair or
replace screens that have tears or holes in them.
Drain all standing water on private property and stock permanent ponds
with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the
spring and fall.
Q. How do people get infected with West Nile Virus? A. The main route of human infection is through the bite of an infected
Q. What is the basic transmission cycle of West Nile Virus? A. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds which may
circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. Infected mosquitoes
then can transmit West Nile Virus to humans and animals while biting.
The virus is located in the mosquito’s salivary glands. During feeding
the virus may be injected into the human or animal where it can
multiply, possibly causing illness.
Q. If I live in an area where birds or mosquitoes with West Nile Virus
have been reported and a mosquito bites me, am I likely to get sick? A. No. Even in an area where the virus is circulating, very few
mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Even if the mosquito is
infected, less than 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will
get seriously ill.
Q. Can you get West Nile Encephalitis from another person? A. No. West Nile Encephalitis is not transmitted from person to person.
Q. Is a woman’s pregnancy at risk if she gets infected with West Nile
Virus? A. There is one documented case of transplacental (mother to child)
transmission of West Nile Virus in a human. Pregnant women should take
precautions to reduce their risk for West Nile Virus using protective
clothing, and repellants. When West Nile Virus transmission is occurring
in an area, pregnant women who become ill should see their health care
Q. Besides mosquitoes, can you get West Nile Virus directly from other
insects or ticks? A. Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for West Nile Virus.
Although ticks infected with West Nile Virus have been found in Asia and
Africa, their role in the transmission of the virus is uncertain.
However, there is no information to suggest that ticks have transmitted
any of the cases identified in the United States.
Q. How many types of animals have been found to be infected with the
West Nile Virus? A. The majority of infections have been identified in birds. However,
West Nile Virus has been shown to infect horses, cats, bats, chipmunks,
skunks, squirrels, and domestic rabbits.
Q. Can you get West Nile Virus directly from birds? A. There is no evidence that a person can get West Nile Virus from
handling live or dead birds. However, persons should avoid bare-handed
contact when handling any dead animals and use gloves or double plastic
bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
Q. Can you get infected with West Nile Virus by caring for an infected
horse? A. West Nile Virus is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes. There is no
documented evidence of person to person or animal to person
Q. Can you get West Nile Virus from eating game birds or animals that
have been infected? A. There is no evidence that West Nile Virus can be transmitted to
humans through consuming infected birds or animals. Always follow
procedures for fully cooking meat either from birds or mammals.
Q. How does West Nile Virus actually cause severe illness and death in
humans? A. Following transmission by an infected mosquito, West Nile Virus
multiplies in the person’s blood system and crosses the blood-brain
barrier to reach the brain. The virus interferes with normal central
nervous system functioning and causes inflammation of brain tissue.
Q. How long does West Nile Virus remain in a person’s body after they
are infected? A. There is no scientific evidence indicating that people can be
chronically infected with West Nile Virus. What remains in a person’s
body for long periods of time are antibodies and “memory” white blood
cells (T-Lymphocytes) that the body produces to the virus. These
antibodies and T-Lymphocytes last for years, and may last for the rest
of a person’s life. Antibodies are what many diagnostic tests look for
when clinical laboratory testing is performed. Both antibodies and
“memory” T-Lymphocytes provide future protection from the virus.
Q. If a person contracts West Nile Virus, does that person develop a
natural immunity to future infection by the virus? A. It is assumed that immunity will be lifelong; however, it may wane in