Vt. begins eighth year of West Nile virus testing

For Immediate Release: June 12, 2007
 
Media Contact:
Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported by the Vermont Department of Health for the past three years. The State of Vermont hopes to report “zero” cases again this year.

"Although severe illness is rare after a person is infected with West Nile virus, every summer we remind people that there is a risk of West Nile virus as long as mosquitoes are active," said Patsy Tassler, an epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health. “We had a moist spring, and a long, hot summer could trigger a prolonged mosquito breeding season.”

West Nile virus is transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito. Vermont’s first human case was documented in 2002, and three cases were reported in 2003. Beginning on June 11, an annual statewide surveillance program was initiated that tests dead birds for the virus.

Vermonters are urged to report dead birds by calling 1-800-913-1139. Some of the birds will be tested for West Nile virus.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets also traps and tests mosquitoes to identify local areas of increased virus activity.

The Health Department tests crows, robins, jays, ravens, osprey, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, and eagles for West Nile virus. Four of the 888 dead birds reported in 2005 tested positive for West Nile virus, and so did nine of the 927 dead birds reported in 2006.

The Department of Health is also reminding Vermonters to prevent exposure to West Nile virus by taking the following precautions:

More information about West Nile virus can be found at the Vermont Department of Health website healthvermont.gov.

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