British Columbia

Birds in B.C. test positive for West Nile virus

Interior Health said the birds were tested after they were found in Kimberley.

Dead ravens were found in Kimberley

Two ravens found dead in Kimberley, B.C., have tested positive for West Nile virus. The disease spreads through mosquito bites. (Randall McKenzie)

Two dead ravens found in southeast B.C. have tested positive for West Nile virus, marking the first evidence of the virus in the province this year.

On Tuesday, Interior Health said the birds were tested after they were found in Kimberley, B.C., during routine checks.

A statement from the authority said there haven't been any human cases reported and that no mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus. Canadian Blood Services hasn't identified the virus in its screening program, either.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile when they feed on the blood of a bird that carries the virus, like ravens, jays or crows. Infected mosquitoes spread the virus to animals and people by biting them. (Photo by James Gathany/CDC)

West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus. The bugs become infected when they bite a bird that carries the virus, like ravens, crows or jays. 

Some mosquitoes can spread the disease to humans and other animals through bites.

Interior Health said the risk of becoming seriously ill is low for most people. Those over the age of 50 and anyone with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable.

Most people who contract West Nile won't show any symptoms, but some signs of illness include sore joints, nausea and a headache.

The authority offered the following tips to reduce your risk:

  • Prevent mosquitos breeding near your home. Any standing body of water can be a breeding area: backyard pools, flowerpots, bird baths, rain gutters, tarps and tires. These should be emptied regularly and pumps installed where possible.
  • Avoid activities outside at dusk and dawn. This is when mosquitoes that can carry the virus are most active.
  • Wear protective clothing. Choose loose-fitting, light-coloured, full-length pants and a long-sleeved shirt in areas with many mosquitoes.
  • Install screens on windows.
  • Use mosquito repellent.

West Nile was detected in B.C. for the first time in 2009.

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