Two dead birds infected with the West Nile virus, which can be fatal
to humans and has killed one man in Orange County, were found in
Newport Beach and Costa Mesa in July.
A dead crow found July 16 at Mariners and Dover drives tested
positive for the mosquito-borne illness, Orange County Vector Control
District informed Newport Beach city officials Thursday.
"Needless to say, when we got the news, it was a shock,"
Councilman Steve Bromberg said. "It's a very disturbing realization
that this can strike, not close to home, but at home. It's something
I take, and we as a city take, very seriously."
Another crow, found July 19 in Costa Mesa, also tested positive
for the virus, said Tricia Arcelona, spokeswoman for the Orange
County Health Care Agency.
So far, two human cases have been reported in Orange County -- the
first a Fullerton man who died last month, the second a 41-year-old
Orange County man who was hospitalized on July 24 with symptoms of
meningitis, health officials said.. He was confirmed Thursday as the
second case in the county and is now recovering, health officials
A total of 73 birds in Orange County have tested positive, most in
"People think if they don't live there, they're safe," said
Michael Hearst, director of public information and government
relations for the Orange County Vector Control. "Mosquitoes and birds
have wings. People in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa need to do the
same as people everywhere else, and that is eliminate standing water.
It doesn't have to be green, scummy water. It can be in a tray or a
Costa Mesa animal control officer Art Beames said he has seen a
noticeable increase in the number of dead birds. He found two sick
birds on Thursday alone, he said. The Costa Mesa bird sent to county
vector control came from county animal control officers, Hearst said.
Costa Mesa city officials on Friday were unaware of the reported
case in the city.
"I have heard nothing about it," said Ann Shultz, legislative and
public affairs director. "We are certainly going to check it out."
County vector control has been working to control the mosquito
population, Hearst said. Areas such as the Back Bay can provide a
fertile breeding ground for mosquito larvae if water stands too long,
Vector control sets traps and uses mosquito-larvae-eating fish to
stem mosquito breeding in pools and ponds.
If bitten by an infected mosquito, some people may get sick, while
most may never show symptoms, Arcelona said. The elderly and those
with chronic illnesses are most likely to become infected with the
Symptoms of infection include fever, headache, body aches, nausea,
vomiting and a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
People can avoid being bitten by using insect repellent containing
DEET, wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts and staying inside after
"It's inevitable that there will be more human cases," Arcelona
The second year of the virus in an area is generally the worst,
Hearst said. He expects that there will be fewer cases next year as
people are more careful to keep mosquitoes at bay.
If residents find a dead bird they may dispose of it wearing
gloves, he said. Birds do not transmit the virus, only mosquitoes.
* MARISA O'NEIL covers public safety and courts. She may be
reached at (949) 574-4268 or by e-mail at email@example.com.