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Pinedale Online > News > May 2007 > No West Nile Virus bird testing planned
No West Nile Virus bird testing planned
Testing found to not be a good indicator
May 25, 2007

The Wyoming Department of Health will not seek or accept Wyoming birds for West Nile virus (WNV) testing this year. After years of testing, health officials say they have seen little correlation between avian West Nile virus prevalence and human disease in Wyoming. The past two seasons they have learned of human infection of the virus before they had an indication of avian transmission occurring in the same geographic locations.

Testing of dead birds in Wyoming began in 2002 as a way to help determine the presence of WNV in various areas around the state. Despite the number of birds that have been submitted for West Nile virus testing since 2002 (1,432), only 16 percent have been found to be positive for WNV infection.

The Department of Health determined their resources would best serve Wyoming residents with an emphasis on human surveillance, education and human virus testing. The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory will continue testing human WNV specimens at no cost. Last year there were 65 cases of West Nile virus reported in Wyoming with 2 deaths. There were 12 human cases with 2 deaths in 2005; 10 human cases with no deaths in 2004; and 393 human cases with 12 deaths in 2003.

West Nile virus (WNV) is a flavivirus that can cause human infection. The principal route of human infection is through the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile virus human cases in Wyoming occur primarily in the late summer or early Fall, although the mosquito season in Wyoming is typically April through October. People with mild WNV infections may experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. This is called West Nile fever. People with more severe infections may experience high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, and paralysis. This is called West Nile neuroinvasive disease, which may include encephalitis, meningitis, and a polio-like syndrome. Anyone having these symptoms is encouraged to contact their health care provider.

According to health officials, West Nile virus is present around Wyoming. From 2004-2006, there have been no positive West Nile detections in humans, horses or birds recorded in Sublette County or Teton counties. There were three positive WNV detections (1 horse, 2 birds) in Sweetwater County in 2006.

More information about West Nile virus is available from the Wyoming Department of Health on the web at or by calling 1-877-WYO-BITE (1-877-996-2483).

Pinedale Online > News > May 2007 > No West Nile Virus bird testing planned

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