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Bye-bye, blackbird: Report dead birds to Snohomish Health District

Your information will track West Nile virus in Snohomish County

SNOHOMISH COUNTY--- You can help track West Nile virus (WNV) activity in Snohomish County. Snohomish Health District recently reactivated its WNV information line for you to report the location of dead birds you find in the county. Dead crows in particular are early indicators of virus activity because this family of bird is most susceptible to infection. Call 425.339.5250 during business hours to report a freshly dead bird that has no obvious trauma. After 5 p.m. or on weekends, call 425.339.8720.

Include the bird’s condition, and the date, time, and location you found it. Also report the level of mosquito activity you noticed in the area of the dead bird. The Health District will document each report and use the information for mapping. They will call you if they want the dead bird for testing. Not all birds will be collected for testing. To dispose of an uncollected bird, wear gloves, wrap the bird in double plastic bags, and put it in the trash. There is no risk of WNV infection from handling dead birds.

“The overall risk to persons in Snohomish County becoming sick from West Nile virus this summer is not predictable with any certainty,” said M. Ward Hinds, MD, MPH, Health Officer for Snohomish County. “However, surveillance of dead birds will be very important to help predict and anticipate human cases. Human cases are very unlikely before August, and it is possible there will be no human cases in Snohomish County,” he said.

West Nile virus appeared in the eastern United States in 1999 and has been detected in 44 states. A dead crow found in Snohomish County last fall was the second bird to test positive for WNV in Washington State. Wild birds are the primary host for WNV, which is spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and then bite other birds, animals or humans. WNV is not spread person-to-person and most people infected experience no symptoms. Find more information about WNV on the Snohomish Health District Web site: www.snohd.org.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats.

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These simple steps can help reduce the spread of WNV:

  • Eliminate mosquito breeding areas replace water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least once a week; keep flowerpots and gutters draining freely so they do not collect water; dispose of items such as tires and tarps that collect standing water.
  • Use repellants containing DEET, following directions carefully, especially for children.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair.
  • Stay indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
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