For Immediate Release: Nov. 7, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The State of Vermont has concluded its dead bird reporting season. A total of 308 dead birds were reported to the Vermont Department of Health, 38 birds were tested, and only one bird was found to be infected with West Nile virus.
Each year, the State of Vermont conducts a statewide surveillance program that includes testing dead birds, trapping and testing mosquitoes and testing people who have symptoms consistent with the virus.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture reported that one mosquito pool tested positive for West Nile virus this season. West Nile virus, an infection spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, is transmitted from infected birds to mosquitoes. No human cases of West Nile virus have been documented in Vermont since 2003.
The recent cold weather has reduced the number of mosquitoes, and the program will not begin again until 2009 when the buzzing pests begin breeding again in the spring.
“We want to thank all Vermonters who reported dead birds to us during the summer season,” said Acting State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso. “All dead bird reports are important and help the State of Vermont understand the level of virus activity and the potential threat to human health.”
The Health Department accepted robins, jays, crows, ravens, osprey, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, and eagles for West Nile virus testing. These bird species are the most important for indicating the presence of West Nile virus in Vermont.
West Nile virus in Vermont was first documented in October 2000, when a hermit thrush found dead in southern Vermont tested positive for the virus.
Monitoring bird deaths helps to prevent human cases of the virus by identifying local areas of increased virus activity. For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Vermont Department of Health web site: healthvermont.gov.