The West Nile virus has been detected in three instances in Yuba County, according to an official with the Sutter-Yuba Mosquito Vector Control District.

Manager Steve Abshier cautioned residents that just because the detection happened in Yuba County, that doesn’t mean Sutter, or other counties, are free of the virus.

“It is important to understand that detections in one location or county does not mean that other places outside of the detection area are free of West Nile virus infected mosquitoes,” he said. “Anytime during the mosquito season when residents want or need to be outside and mosquitoes are active (typically at or around dawn and dusk), it is important to avoid mosquito bites.”

Abshier said some ways people can protect themselves include limiting outside activity to daytime hours (when mosquitoes aren’t biting), wearing long pants and long sleeves and applying mosquito repellant.

“California had it first West Nile virus human case last week in Imperial County. It turned out to cause a fatality,” he said. “At this time last year, 10 human cases of WNV illness had been reported from six counties.”

In 2018, there were three human cases and one fatality reported between Yuba and Sutter counties.

Dead bird testing, sentinel chickens and mosquito sampling are used to detect West Nile virus activity and those methods help direct resources before a human infection occurs.

“District staff visits seven sentinel chicken flocks every other week to collect a small blood sample to be tested for antibodies to West Nile virus,” he said. “Testing of the sentinel chickens began back during the week of April 21.”

On a weekly basis, the staff uses specialized traps to collect live mosquitoes from within the district that are processed and then submitted for West Nile virus testing.

“The traps are self-sufficient and can be placed in remote locations without the need for a source of electricity,” he said. “These traps can serve two functions, giving us both mosquito abundance data as well as providing samples of mosquitoes for testing.”

David Whitesell, with the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District, said there have been no detections of West Nile virus in their county but also cautioned people that it’s still a threat.

Whitesell and Abshier both encouraged people to call 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) if they see a dead bird.

“All calls are screened to determine if the dead bird specimen is suitable for testing,” Abshier said. “Then, our staff is notified and the bird is picked up. An oral swab is collected and then submitted to a UC Davis lab for testing.”

He said they began submitting oral swabs for testing during the week of May 20.

“After this all blew over a few years ago, people stopped calling as often when they saw dead birds but it’s still important to call,” Whitesell said. “Crows, jays and magpies are the most susceptible but almost any bird can get it.”


Minimizing mosquitos around the house:

“Residents should continue to look for sources in their own yards for any kind of container that could be holding water or catching irrigation water,” Abshier said. “Some common ones include flower pots and saucers, bird baths, miscellaneous buckets, tires, tarps, animal watering troughs and neglected spas and swimming pools.

He said draining, dumping or pouring out the water will stop mosquito breeding and for bigger water sources, their staff can help provide solutions.

“One unmaintained swimming pool can produce tens of thousands of mosquitoes over the summer,” he said. “Neighbors can anonymously report neglected pools.”

For more information, contact the Sutter-Yuba Mosquito Vector Control District online at, or call 674-5456.

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