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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The Scott County Health Department (SCHD) 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 ex. 102, 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 will be accepted 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 Aug. 1 were twice as likely to have a human case than those that recorded a WNV-positive bird after Aug. 1. Therefore, dead birds will be accepted for testing beginning May 1, 2023 – Oct. 15, 2023.
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 in 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 gases or damaged by scavenging animals);
• No obvious cause of death, i.e., crushed, shot, or killed by a motor vehicle.
“A big key point for that is that the birds must not be dead for more than 48 hours and show no obvious signs of death such as being ran over or hit by a card, or an animal attacked it, or it got shot,” SCHD BSN/RN Meghan VanDeVelde said. “In addition, it should show no signs of deterioration.”
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.
“Folks can bring a sample bird to our office in a sealed Ziploc bag or we can come collect the bird at the location as well,” VanDeVelde said.
Prevention 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 change any collectors of water (such as bird baths, pets’ water bowls, yard toys, potted plant containers, 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 Scott County Health Department at 217-742-8203 if you know of any areas as described above.
For more information, go to: https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus/dead-bird-collection.html