Vermonters Asked To Report Dead Birds Again This Year
For Immediate Release: June 24, 2004
Contact: Patsy Tassler, Ph.D.
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – Vermonters are being asked to report dead bird sightings to the Vermont Department of Health again this summer. The department is collecting and testing dead birds as part of its West Nile virus surveillance effort.
Dead birds can be an indication that mosquitoes in a particular geographic region in the state carry West Nile virus. The Department of Health tests many of the dead birds that are turned in. Even if a bird is not tested, the report of the sighting still provides important information.
If you see a dead bird, please call and report your sighting to the local Department of Health district office or you can call 1-800-913-1139 (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).
The state began collecting birds earlier this month. Last year, 1751 dead birds were reported, 827 were tested and 116 birds tested positive for West Nile virus.
People, birds and horses can become infected with West Nile virus from the bite of an infected mosquito. In 2003, three people and four horses in Vermont tested positive for the virus.
There is a safe, effective vaccine for horses. Horse owners should contact their veterinarian to get their horses vaccinated.
While most people who are infected do not have any symptoms, it is worth guarding against West Nile virus because the illness can be severe, especially in older people.
Approximately 20 percent of people who are infected have mild symptoms that can include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe cases can cause headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes death.
In addition to monitoring the dead bird population, the Department of Health and the Agency of Agriculture are working together to trap mosquitoes to test them for the virus.
Steps You Can Take To Avoid West Nile Virus
- Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants whenever possible outdoors.
- Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors at dawn and dusk since that is when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use insect repellant that contains up to 30 percent DEET for adults and up to 10 percent DEET for children and apply sparingly. Be sure to follow the product directions. DEET can be harmful if used in large amounts or used incorrectly. Never use DEET on infants.
- Regularly empty any outdoor containers that hold standing water including wading pools, trash cans, tires and empty flower pots. Turn them over or cover them when they are not being used.
- Clean leaves and other debris out of clogged gutters.
- Repair holes in screens and make sure they fit tightly to the window or door frame.
More information about West Nile virus, national and Vermont statistics, and others ways to protect yourself can be found on the Vermont Department of Health website: www.HealthyVermonters.com .