June 24, 2002
HEALTH DEPARTMENT LINES JAMMED WITH CALLS ABOUT
WEST NILE VIRUS, TWO MORE BIRDS SENT TO LAB FOR TESTING
Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department has received a record number of calls on phone lines dedicated to customer questions and complaints about mosquitoes and dead birds. The Public Health Pest Management (PHPM) program, which is responsible for the mosquito control program, received 56 mosquito complaints on June 18th, breaking a 16-year old record for the number of complaints received in a single day.
Specialists from the Health Department’s Public Health Pest Management Program returned nearly 500 customer calls—even returning calls over the weekend, about dead birds or requesting information about West Nile virus. Dennis Salmen, program chief for the PHPM program, says calls have come from nine surrounding counties and from South Carolina.
Of those hundreds of calls, three more dead birds (two blue jays and one crow) have been collected and sent to the State lab for testing. Salmen says it’s important for people to be able to recognize American crows, blue jays and common hawks—the most likely carriers of West Nile Virus. Links to examples of these birds are posted on .
With the help of the State PHPM program, the Health Department set traps for the “pooling” of adult mosquitoes to be tested for West Nile virus. The State PHPM program has agreed to assist Mecklenburg County in preparing and analyzing these samples. The “pooling” process involves capturing live mosquitoes and shipping them to the State lab for viral analysis. Samples were sent to the State lab today.
After the State Laboratory of Public Health returned test results on a blue jay confirming Mecklenburg County’s first case of West Nile Virus for 2002 just last week, three teams from the Health Department have canvassed the South Park neighborhood where the dead bird was found. Visiting more than 250 homes, the teams talked to neighbors and left behind information about mosquitoes, West Nile Virus and how to eliminate breeding areas on their property. Similar information can be found on the Health Department’s Web site, . Look for the “Skeeter Defeater” logo.
Should anyone find dead birds, they are asked to call the Mecklenburg County Health Department at 704-353-0350. To report mosquito problems, call 704-336-5101.