A dead American crow found recently in Lakeside tested positive for West Nile virus, the sixth such find this year, the county of San Diego Department of Environmental Health reported Tuesday.
WNV is a potentially fatal disease that can be transferred to humans by mosquitoes, but no one has been sickened locally in 2013, according to the DEH.
Nearly 120 people nationwide have contracted WNV, and last year 286 people in the U.S. died of the illness.
"The good news is that people can protect themselves by taking some simple steps," said DEH Director Jack Miller. "Use insect repellent to keep mosquitoes away, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants if you're out at dusk when mosquitoes like to feed, and clear your yard or home of potential mosquito breeding areas."
Residents should clear standing water on their property and check inside discarded tires, where water can collect. Water can be used as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Dead birds, pools of stagnant water and neglected swimming pools should be reported to County Vector Control at (858) 694-2888. The department also has a free smartphone app that can be used to make reports, available online at sdcounty.ca.gov/appcenter.
The county sprays aerial applications of mosquito larvicide along the San Diego River in Santee to cut down on the number of mosquitoes. The next application will be September 18.
Eight of 10 people who become infected with West Nile virus will not suffer symptoms, according to the DEH. Most people who do get sick will suffer mild symptoms, including headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, skin rash or swollen glands.
In rare cases -- typically, the disease is most dangerous to the very young or very old, or those with compromised immune responses -- people can suffer life-threatening neurological complications.-City News Service