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A dead bird found in central Hanford tested positive for West Nile virus, the Kings Mosquito Abatement District said Wednesday.

The American crow, collected on June 13, marks the first detection of the virus in Kings County this year. The bird came right to county health officials' doorstep.

"It was found on the grounds of the health department," said Keith Winkler, director of the Kings County Department of Health. "Our staff actually called it in."

Winkler said the bird is the 23rd infected bird found in California this year. The virus has been in the Valley since 2004, and commonly affects crows and other members of the corvid family, like bluejays and magpies, he said.

To help reduce the spread of the illness, the Kings Mosquito Abatement District is urging residents to drain any sources of standing water that may support mosquito habitats, such as neglected swimming pools.

People should also defend themselves from mosquitoes using repellents with ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, the district advised.

They should also avoid going outdoors at dusk or dawn, as those are the times mosquitoes are most active, and wear long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are present. Make sure door and window screens fit tight and are in good repair.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2458.


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