Bird Surveillance for West Nile Virus from the Langlade County Health Department
From Stephanie Thiede, PHN
Langlade County Health Department
In recent news, it has been reported by the Department of Health Services that 12 birds found in eight counties in Wisconsin have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Among the counties listed was our neighbor, Marathon County. WNV is spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. The state conducts surveillance of WNV between May 1st and October 31st. The Langlade County Health Department is asking all county residents to report dead crows, blue jays and ravens to help in monitoring the virus in Langlade County.
How do I report a dead crow, blue jay or raven? If the bird’s death can be attributed to causes such as hitting a window or injury by another animal, you do not need to report it. However, if the bird has not died from physical injury and it is one of these three species, please call either the Wisconsin Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610 or the Langlade County Health Department at 715-627-6250.
What do I do with it? We ask that you please call it in before you bring it in! If the county already has one positive dead bird testing result, surveillance in that county is discontinued for the rest of the season. However, if the county has yet to have a positive bird, we ask that you double bag the dead bird in Ziploc bags and freeze it until you can drop it off at the health department. We then take care of mailing the bird to the state, and we call you back to pass on whether the specimen was positive or negative for WNV.
What if there is a positive bird in our county? If the test results are positive, we release the information to the public. Feel free to visit the following website to check out the WNV surveillance activity map:
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/arboviral/westnilevirus.htm Under general information, there is a link for the current Wisconsin county surveillance map. Last year, Langlade County had a positive bird specimen and no human cases.
Why test the birds and not just humans? The reason that the state monitors dead birds for WNV is to have an early warning system in place that indicates that the virus may be present in the area. This information is important to heighten awareness and encourage protection across the community. Also, about 80 percent of people that become infected with WNV do not get sick. However, it is still important to be aware of the virus’ circulation for those who get mild flu-like symptoms and those at risk (less than 1%) of suffering severe illness with symptoms including high fever, muscle weakness, disorientation, tremors, paralysis, coma and even death.
For any questions about West Nile Disease, please call the Langlade County Health Department at 715-627-6250.