Hawk is second dead bird in San Diego County with West Nile virus

West Nile virus concern increases after second infected dead bird found in San Diego County

A dead hawk has become the second bird in San Diego County to test positive for West Nile virus this year, public health officials said Thursday.

The announcement comes just two weeks after a 43-year-old Santee man was diagnosed as the first person in the county in two years to have West Nile virus.

Statewide there is increased concern about the virus. State health officials this week announced two deaths attributed to the virus: a man in Shasta County and a woman in Sacramento County.

The dead hawk was found in the unincorporated section of El Cajon in eastern San Diego County.

The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then bite people, officials said.

"Use insect repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants if you're out at dusk," said county environmental health director Liz Pozzebon. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn.

Pozzebon renewed a call for residents to report dead birds -- crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls -- as well as neglected swimming pools that can be prime mosquito breeding sites. Reports can be called in to the vector control program, (858) 694-2888.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers West Nile virus a "seasonal epidemic" in the summer and early fall. There is no vaccine or treatment for people who become infected.

About one in five people who become infected will experience a high fever, rash or other symptoms. In less than 1% of cases, West Nile virus can cause serious, even fatal, neurological illness, according to the CDC.

People over 50 years old are considered to be particularly vulnerable, the CDC says.

For news as it happens in San Diego County and Southern California, follow the reporter on Twitter:@LATsandiego

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