SOLVANG, Calif. - Four sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile virus near Solvang.
According to the Mosquito and Vector Managment District (MVMD), the chickens are part of a "sentinel" flock. They are monitored at the Wastewater Treatment Plant near Solvang.
Detection in chickens means there is a risk for the virus to spread to humans through mosquito bites. Although, no human cases have been reported to the Public Health Department this year.
Manager David Chang says a good way to avoid a mosquito bite is to avoid areas near standing water at dawn or dusk. He says "I wouldn't panic" over a mosquito bite. Just be aware of any symptoms afterwards.
The district also has free mosquito fish for ornamental ponds and fountains around your house. The fish are very effective in controlling the mosquito population.
Dead birds are also a sign of West Nile Virus. If you see any, example, dead crows, you are asked to call the district. The birds may be inspected to determine the cause of death.
MVMD said that West Nile virus cases are down from the same time in 2016.
Testing throughout the state of California has shown that WNV is present in the bird populations of 37 counties and chicken populations in 16 counties.
Most people who are infected do not get sick from WNV. Symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches which subside after a few days to weeks.
However, in elderly people and those with suppressed immune systems the virus can be deadly.
The MVMD recommends:
* Avoid outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dusk and dawn.
* When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and use mosquito repellents.
* Ensure that door and window screens are tight-fitting and in good repair.
* Eliminate standing and stagnant water to prevent mosquito breeding.
* Vaccinations are available for horses from your veterinarian.
Statistics for California WNV activity can be found online at www.westnile.ca.gov.