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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

August 5, 2003

THREE MORE BIRDS POSITIVE FOR WEST NILE

Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department has received test results confirming that three more dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus.  These most recent results are from two American crows from Mint Hill and one blue jay collected in Cornelius.  A total of five birds in Mecklenburg County have tested positive for West Nile virus in 2003.

Last month, two American crows were the first birds in Mecklenburg County to test positive for West Nile virus in 2003. So far this year, 36 birds have been shipped to the National Wildlife Health Center for testing.  Results are still pending on 23 birds. 

Dead birds should be reported immediately, since birds dead longer than 24 to 36 hours may not be suitable for testing.  When a dead bird is found, it should be secured, regardless of whether it will be tested for West Nile. Children, stray cats and dogs or other animals may pick up a bird if left unprotected. The bird should be placed in a plastic bag, bucket or comparable container and, if possible, kept in a cool place. Birds should never be handled directly. A shovel or similar device should be used to pick them up, and protective gloves should always be worn.

In addition to American crows, blue jays and raptors such as hawks and owls, this is the first year that dead cardinals will be targeted for West Nile virus testing in North Carolina.   To report targeted dead birds, call the Health Department’s Public Health Pest Management Program at 704-353-0350.  For questions about mosquitoes, call 704-336-5101.

In 2002, there were six reported human cases of West Nile virus in North Carolina.  One of those cases was in a Mecklenburg County resident.  The Health Department submitted 118 birds for West Nile virus testing last year. These birds were collected from 26 Mecklenburg County zip codes. Of those 118 birds, 62 tested positive for West Nile virus. West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals. Most humans and animals that are infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms.
 
The best protection from West Nile virus is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.  To do so:

· Stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
· Use repellants containing DEET and follow directions closely.
· Wear long sleeves and long pants.
· Eliminate standing water sources that may be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.



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