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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

June 26, 2002



Charlotte, NC- The Mecklenburg County Health Department is releasing the following information in response to the flood of calls after a recently identified case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a blue jay collected in the County. The Health Department will continue to collect selected dead birds for analysis by the State Public Health Laboratory for this disease.  These guidelines are offered to ensure the safety of collectors and follow dead bird sampling protocol for WNV.  

Birds to be collected:

Only blue jays, American crows, and raptors (hawks, owls, falcons) can be submitted for laboratory analysis so only these birds are to be collected. No other animals are currently being considered for WNV screening. All birds must be no more than 24-36 hours old since their estimated death or when they were found, and contain no visible damage, insect predation, odor, or decomposition. Birds older than 36 hours may be collected if the bird was refrigerated and meets the above conditions.  Links to pictures of these birds may be found on the Health Department's Web site at

Reporting dead bird or mosquito problems in Mecklenburg County :

·          Dead Bird hotline:                704-353-0350

·          Mosquito Complaints:          704-336-5101

·          General WNV questions      704-336-4310


South Carolina residents may contact SC DHEC at (803) 898-3432 or Carolina residents outside of Mecklenburg County, contact your local health department or the NC DENR dead bird hotline at 877-790-1747.

Handling dead birds:

When a dead bird is found, it should be secured, regardless of whether it will be tested for WNV. Stray cats, dogs, children, etc. may pickup a bird if left unprotected. This may mean placing it in a plastic bag, bucket, or comparable container and, if possible kept in cool place. Birds should never be handled directly.  Use either a shovel or similar device to pick them up.  

The following 'best practices' should be followed to handle dead birds: 

1.        Wear disposable gloves or disposable hand protection

2.        If the bird is a specimen meeting collection criteria, roll the bird over before collecting   (many birds appear non-decomposed on the surface, but the 'ground side' may reveal decay)

3.        Secure the bird in a cool place, where possible

4.        Decayed birds should be disposed of immediately by double bagging and placing solid waste disposal container (NOTE: different municipalities and private companies have different rules on this). The Health Department does not provide dead bird disposal. 

Additional questions about West Nile virus, call 704-336-4310, the Health Department's Web site at or the following links:

> >
>Previous Health Department Release including pictures of the most effected birds

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