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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The Scott County Health Department is seeking the public’s assistance in obtaining dead birds to submit to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to test for the presence of West Nile Virus (WNV).
Please contact the Department at 217-742-8203 and the staff will retrieve species of “perching birds” (Passeriformes) in addition to crows, blue jays, robins, cardinals, catbirds, mockingbirds, many species of sparrows, finches, flycatchers, swallows, warblers, wrens, and small or medium size hawks or owls for submission to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign for testing.
Vector Control/Arbovirus Surveillance from IDPH indicates that WNV arrived in Illinois at the end of the summer of 2001. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that counties with a WNV- positive bird before August 1 were twice as likely to have a human case than those who recorded a WNV-positive bird after August 1. Therefore, the dead birds will be accepted for testing beginning May 23, until October 15.
It is the department’s goal to detect any early-season WNV activity promoted by weather conditions this spring. As the summer becomes drier, we will see an increase of the Culex pipiens (the common house mosquito) population which is the disease transmitter of the West Nile Virus.
The Department is asking the community to be aware of any birds that:
• Have been dead for less than 48 hours.
• Died singly (birds dying from WNV are usually found singly, scattered over a wide area versus birds that die from other causes-storm mortality, food poisoning, toxicants – usually die in groups or clusters in a small area).
• NOT decomposed (strong odor present, dried/deflated eyes, maggots present or bloated with decomposition gasses or damaged by scavenging animals.
• No obvious cause of death, i.e., crushed, shot or killed by a motor vehicle.
Dead birds that do not meet the requirements should be properly disposed of by an adult by burying or double wrapping in plastic bags and disposing properly without touching the carcass. Wash hands upon completion.
If the dead bird meets the conditions for testing or if you have any questions, please contact the Scott County Health Department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), WNV is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.
There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms, and about one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
Individuals can reduce their risk of contracting WNV by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.
Reducing the population of mosquitos is also an effective way of preventing the spread of WNV.
Local measures to decrease the mosquito population include eliminating all ponding or pooling of stagnant water (including containers of stagnant water and water high in organic matter such as sewage effluent) i.e., roof guttering, and changing any collectors of water (such as birdbaths, pets’ water bowls, yard toys, potted plant containers/saucers or kiddy pools) at least weekly. The growth stage of the mosquito is 10 days from an egg to an adult. The Department upon request is able to larvicide areas that cannot be eliminated by drainage or any source area where mosquitoes are known to be of a nuisance.
Please call the Health Department at 217-742-8203 if you know of any areas described above.