The virus is not known to exist in California
The city of Berkeley is taking part in a statewide effort to monitor for the potentially fatal West Nile Virus, and the city manager’s office pledged Wednesday to keep residents informed.
At present, the virus does not exist in California and has only been detected east of the Rocky Mountains. However, the California Department of Health Services says the virus, which lives in the tissue of birds and can be spread to humans through mosquitos, could reach the west coast within the next few years.
The virus can induce fever-like symptoms in humans and be fatal to those with weak immune systems. In 2001, 66 cases of West Nile Virus were detected in the eastern United States.
State officials are looking for the virus by asking residents who find dead birds to call so that they can dispatch safety teams to test for virus. The telephone number for reporting dead birds is 1-877-WNV-BIRD or 1-877-968-2477.
In the meantime, officials are advising residents to take precautions.
John Rusmisel, district manager of the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District, emphasized the need for people to keep swimming pools and fish ponds clean because they can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“Residential areas produce as much mosquitoes as marshland,” he said.