Here in Contra Costa County, there is already a virus that is neither new nor unknown and it can have life-changing repercussions.
West Nile virus (WNV), which is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, was first discovered in the United States in 1999. By 2003 it had spread to California. Contra Costa County found the first evidence of WNV and 11 residents were diagnosed with the virus in 2005. Today, WNV is an annual occurrence.
Right now, we are all learning to wear masks and practice social distancing to reduce the risk of COVID-19, but in the 15 years since WNV first arrived, Contra Costa County residents have also learned how to reduce the risk of that virus.
Ways to Reduce the Risk of WNV:
- Dump out any amount of standing water to prevent mosquitoes.
- Wear repellent when outside at times when mosquitoes are present.
- Report dead birds.
Contra Costa County residents can help the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District reduce the risk of WNV by reporting dead birds because they are
||Crows are a host of West Nile virus.
When you find a dead bird on your property, please report the bird to the California WNV and Dead Bird Call Center by phone at (877) WNV-BIRD (968-2473) or online. The District will be notified of the dead bird and if we are able, we will come out and pick up the bird.
It's important to know, not all dead birds will be picked up, but all dead bird reports are critically important to help the District locate potential areas at risk of WNV.
One More Note on Mosquitoes and Viruses
The District has received questions asking if mosquitoes could transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease. While mosquitoes can transmit dangerous viruses, including WNV, mosquitoes cannot transmit every virus and there is no data that mosquitoes have transmitted this novel coronavirus or any past coronaviruses.
WHY AM I SEEING SKUNKS DURING THE DAY
With so many people working from home and sheltering-in-place these days, more Contra Costa County residents are reporting that they are seeing skunks. It turns
out, young skunks are doing something they do every year, they just have an audience this year.
||Young skunks are out during the day to learn how to forage for food.
Young skunks are on the move in Contra Costa County lately, because this time of year is when mother skunks take their young out to teach them how to forage for food. And these lessons often take place during the day. While the sight of a lethargic skunk during the day can be a possible sign of a rabid skunk, these young skunks are out during the day because they
are not born nocturnal. They become nocturnal as they grow into adults.
The District's Skunk Service Reduces the Risk of Rabies
The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District provides inspections and assistance to reduce the likelihood that humans come in contact with skunks becaus
e they are a vector of rabies.
Residents who believe a skunk is living on their property can request the District's skunk service. When a District employee inspects the property, the technician will be looking for evidence that a skunk is actually living on your property, not merely passing through. If a skunk has set up a den on the property and other criteria are met, the technician may loan the resident a live-catch trap. T
he technician will provide guidelines and poli
cies set forth by California Fish and Wildlife if trapping is deemed necessary.
Please note, if you smell a skunk, see a skunk passing through your yard or your pet has been sprayed by a skunk while on your property, these occurrences alone do not meet the District's criteria and District employees will not trap nor remove a skunk from your property.