West Nile Virus Cautions
June 26, 2005
As summer temperatures heat up and mosquito activity increases, dead bird sightings have prompted many Wyoming residents to contact the Game and Fish Department with concerns of West Nile virus. West Nile is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause a potentially serious illness in humans, birds and animals. Mosquitoes spread this virus after they feed on infected birds, then bite people, other birds and animals.
Dead birds of prey such as eagles or hawks, should be reported to the G&F by calling (800) 842-1934. Dead crows, ravens, jays or magpies should be reported to the Wyoming Department of Health’s West Nile virus toll-free number at (877) WYO-BITE for instructions on how to submit the bird(s) for testing. Be prepared to provide the following information: name, phone number, bird species, number dead, address where the bird was found and approximate date of death. If the bird(s) are suitable for testing, you will be advised on how to handle and submit the carcass. Not every bird that is submitted will be tested. Results are usually available within 1 week. Persons will be notified only if the bird is positive.
Birds and horses typically become infected with West Nile before humans, so dead birds and sick horses are an indicator of West Nile virus activity. Reporting sick or dead birds helps health and mosquito control officials know where West Nile virus activity is present and helps them take means to lessen the impact the virus has on humans and animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there is no evidence that West Nile virus can be contracted by handling a live or dead diseased bird. Even so, if instructed to send a bird in for testing, citizens are advised to use gloves to pick up the carcass and double-bag the bird for sampling.
Until Wyoming is hit with a hard freeze this fall, hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to wear long sleeves, full-length pants and use mosquito repellent with DEET, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. On June 17 the first indication of West Nile virus activity in Wyoming was identified in two horses, one from Fremont County and one from Platte County. No human cases of West Nile virus have been detected in 2005 in Wyoming at this time.
Bad Skeeter, www.badskeeter.org