West Nile virus found in dead SF bird


Uh oh, guys. Time to roll down your sleeves, close those windows and begin praying for the cold San Francisco fog to take over The City.

An ominous dead bird discovered near City College on Sept. 11 was found to have been infected with West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne disease that has been traveling across the States.

The disease has been particularly voracious this Summer, with more than 2,600 cases of West Nile reported nationwide. 126 human cases have been reported in California, claiming six lives and infecting birds and chickens in Contra Costa County.

Before you start replaying scenes from “Outbreak” in your head, there’s no need to panic — yet. Though this is the third bird in The City that’s tested positive for West Nile since 2007, no San Franciscans have been diagnosed with the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 1 percent of people who get bitten will become infected and severely ill.

But um, let’s keep it that way. Here’s the crucial facts about West Nile that you need to know to keep yourself (and everyone else) safe:

  • Mosquitoes are drawn to warm weather, so San Franciscans are most in danger in the late Summer and Fall months. Wear long pants and shirts, and use repellents on skin. Hipsters, tan in Dolores Park at your own risk.
  • Mosquitoes tend to breed in stagnant water, so eliminate standing water from storm drains, water basins, ornamental ponds and bird baths.
  • People over age 50 and those with weakened immune systems should practice extra caution to avoid mosquitoes.

If you are the unlucky 20 percent to develop West Nile fever once infected, the CDC says to expect fever, headache, tiredness, body aches and swollen lymph glands.

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