West Nile virus wildbird testing
Wild bird surveillance for West Nile virus began May 15 and will continue until October 15 or as needed.
Wild birds are important indicators of West Nile viral activity in a given area and viral activity in birds is often detected before human illness. This early detection provides health officials another opportunity to inform people in newly infected areas of preventative measures they can take to protect themselves and horses.
Target species for testing in 2004 include birds of the corvid family (ravens, crows, jays, etc.), raptor and other discretionary species that may be exhibiting neurologic symptoms (examples include birds that can't fly or that appear disoriented and lethargic).
To determine if a bird is suitable for testing, follow these guidelines:
Is the bird a target species (raven, crow, jay or bird of prey. Also, does the bird appear to be ill or dying)?
Has the bird been dead less than 24 hours (evidence of decay would indicate the bird has been dead longer than 24 hours and is therefore not suitable for testing)?
Is there no other obvious cause of death (window strike, cat-kill or collision with a vehicle)?
The Division of Wildlife Resources is working closely with other state and local agencies involved in West Nile virus surveillance and prevention, including the Utah Department of Health, the Utah Mosquito Abatement Association and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
Since people may become infected with WNV through the bite of an infected mosquito, personal protection is key. West Nile virus can result in serious disease or death. It is important to follow these recommended guidelines:
Protect from dusk to dawn. Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active during this time.
Use DEET mosquito repellent according to label instructions.
Make sure window screens and screened doors are in good repair. Small holes will allow mosquitoes to enter.
Eliminate standing water around the home, such as old tires, cans, poorly kept swimming pools or any other source where stagnant water accumulates.
Change water regularly (every two to three days) in birdbaths, outdoor pet dishes, etc.
Aerate ornamental ponds or contact a mosquito abatement district regarding treatment options.
For more information on personal protection and minimizing mosquitoes around the home, visit www.health.utah.gov.