Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Hawk Positive for Zika


Last updated 2/9/2017 at 1:28pm

A dead red-tailed hawk found in Valley Center has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first detection of the potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease in 2017 in San Diego County.

San Diego County environmental health officials immediately reminded people they should protect themselves from mosquitoes and follow the County’s “Prevent, Protect, Report” guidelines year-round.

Mosquitoes are cold-blooded and generally do not bite in temperatures 50 degrees Fahrenheit and lower. However, temperatures around the county have been moving up from winter lows into mosquito-breeding levels in recent weeks. At the same time, rains like the ones we’ve had and expect to have this week can give mosquitoes more places to breed around homes and communities.

Meanwhile, the Zika virus has joined West Nile virus as mosquito-borne diseases to defend against in San Diego County.

West Nile virus has been found naturally in the county environment since it arrived in 2003. Birds and animals can become infected and carry it. Native Culex mosquitoes can then pass it to people if they feed on the blood of an infected animal and then a person’s.

The Zika virus is not naturally found in San Diego County, but it is a tropical disease that has so far been brought here only by people who become infected traveling outside the country. Invasive Aedes mosquitoes — found in San Diego County since 2014 and notable for biting during daylight hours — can pass Zika and other tropical diseases from an infected person to other people by feeding first on the infected person and then biting someone who is not infected.

Last year, County environmental health teams had to hand-spray 10 different neighborhoods around the County between mid-August and late November to protect the public’s health after finding invasive Aedes mosquitoes living near County residents who tested positive for Zika after traveling abroad.

Zika generated more headlines last year, but West Nile virus remains a threat.

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