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West Nile Virus

3 September 2004

So, today I stayed home and let the vermin exterminators come and set up their magic (sorry, I know I could have done the humane trap and release thing, but this was just more expedient, and there are plenty of rats to take the place of these ones. I have no problem with them in the wild, or elsewhere, but literally not in my backyard, please!) and while the guy was setting up stations, and spraying for spiders, etc. he found… a dead crow in my back yard. The crow had apparently died near our birdbath, and it looked as if maybe he had buried his head into the ground, which is a sign that they are sick. So, the exterminator told me that this could be West Nile, and I should call vector control. Of course, I had to find vector control (sounds like an api to a video card to me). So, I spent the greater part of 2 hours trying to track down VC, and getting disconnected numbers from the phone system (please hit a bunch of numbers, then we’ll hang up on you!). Then, I called animal control (well, I called them first for the VC number, but then I called them back), and evidently 1) they don’t handle WNV cases locally, 2) the bird has to be freshly dead (within 24 hours), 3) there are already six reported cases in Marin, so VC isn’t going to test any new cases — it’s all in maintenance mode now. So… I had to just throw the bird away, and hope I don’t have standing water around. I patrolled the perimeter and made sure anything tht might be holding water was tipped over. What a way to spend the morning and afternoon. Luckily, I did learn a bit more about WNV, such as you can’t catch it from dead animals (only skeeters), and it has a smaller human fatality rate than the flu. But, it kills dem birds dead, so bird owners — keep your screens closed.

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