West Nile alert sounded on Peninsula

Peak mosquito season is upon us, and it brings with it the risk of dire consequences on the Peninsula and elsewhere in the Bay Area.

Menlo Park residents have been warned to take extra steps to keep from being bitten by these pesky insects after a dead squirrel found in a park tested positive for the West Nile virus.

The infected squirrel, collected July 3, is the second animal in San Mateo County to test positive for the virus this season. An infected hawk was discovered in June, according to the county Mosquito and Vector Control District.

The squirrel had a low-level or “chronic” case of the virus, which means it probably got infected sometime last year.

Vector control technicians have set up traps where the squirrel was found in order to find out if any mosquitos are carrying the virus in the area.

A dead bird that tested positive for West Nile virus was also found last week in Petaluma, with officials warning that warmer weather in the weeks ahead could bring more reports of infection.

Residents are being told to stay protected from mosquitos by using repellent and removing any standing water, which is where mosquitos breed.

Anyone with questions or concerns should call the county mosquito district at (650) 344-8592. Reports of dead birds or animals may be directed to www.westnile.ca.gov or (877) WNV-BIRD.