Dead hawk tests positive for West Nile virus in Ramona

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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego County environmental health officials announced Wednesday that a dead Cooper's hawk recently found in Ramona tested positive for West Nile virus.

The hawk is the second bird found this year that tested positive for West Nile virus, according to officials with the county's Vector Control Program. A dead Cooper's hawk found in Lakeside in March was also carrying the virus.

Two county residents have tested positive for the virus this year, but both were found to have contracted it in different counties. Nevertheless, Vector Control officials warned residents to protect themselves against mosquitoes, which carry the virus, due to warm, summer-like temperatures maintaining this deep into the year.

The virus is usually carried by birds, but mosquitoes can transmit it to other animals, including humans, by biting them. Symptoms of West Nile can include headache, fever, nausea, skin rash or swollen glands, according to Vector Control officials. Native and invasive mosquito species can also carry viruses like dengue and Zika.

Vector Control officials advised residents to combat local mosquito populations by emptying household items like buckets and plant saucers that may hold standing water. When outside, residents are advised to use insect repellant that contains ingredients like picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Residents can obtain mosquitofish from the county for free to control larvae and breeding in items like swimming pools and bird baths that may contain standing water.

The county also encouraged residents to report local mosquito activity, dead birds and possible breeding areas to the Vector Control Program, which can be reached at 858-694-2888. Residents can learn more about the county's efforts to counter local mosquito activity at its Fight the Bite webpage.

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