Eighth Bird Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Vermont

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Contact: Patsy Tassler, Ph.D.
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON, VT—Vermont health officials announced that a total of eight birds have tested positive for West Nile virus so far this season. There have been no confirmed human cases in Vermont this year.

Locations of positive birds span the state, ranging from one positive bird in Franklin county to three positive birds in Windham county. Other counties where testing found positive birds are Chittenden, Rutland and Windsor.

“We expect to have more positive findings throughout September”, said Health Department Epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Tassler. Vermonters are encouraged to call 1-800-913-1139 to report dead birds.

Dr. Tassler pointed out that “September is the seasonal peak for West Nile virus activity, because the transmission cycle for the disease can take three months to build up in Vermont. However, mosquitoes can still be active well into October.”

Because West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, the Health Department recommends that people limit their outdoor time at dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves and pants when possible, and use an insect repellant that contains DEET. Carefully follow the directions for applying DEET, and never use it on infants.

Any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Vermonters are asked to drain the areas where water can pool near their homes such as rain gutters, wading pools, and any other water-holding containers.

West Nile virus was first documented in the U.S. in 1999 and in Vermont in 2000. Nationally, 43 states have documented West Nile virus activity to date in 2003.