West Nile, Lacrosse Encephalitis in season

NEW CUMBERLAND – The Hancock County Health Department is reminding residents about its dead bird surveillance program to track the West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus and LaCrosse Encephalitis are carried by mosquitoes. They may be spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Neither disease can be spread from casual human to human contact. Symptoms from the virus include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, confusion, weakness, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck.

A mosquito collected Aug. 19 during routine surveillance by the Environmental Protection Agency was found to be positive for West Nile Virus, according to information from the health department. It was found in the northern part of the county, near Lawrenceville.

Residents are asked to call the health department at (304) 564-3343 to report the presence of dead birds. In some cases, the birds will be collected by a sanitarian from the health department and sent to the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services in Charleston for testing.

Dead birds may only be sent for testing if they have been dead for less than 24 hours and do not show any signs of decay. Bird carcasses that are soft or mushy, have an obvious odor, skin discoloration, feathers or skin that rubs off easily, or have ants or maggots are too decomposed for testing, according to officials. Dead birds that meet the acceptable physical conditions will be sent for testing. Report any dead bird that doesn’t show signs of trauma. Birds that have obviously been killed by an animal or killed by hitting a window need not be tested.

Birds that do not need to be tested can be discarded in the regular trash. Officials recommend placing one garbage bag inside another garbage bag, and putting the dead bird inside the double plastic bags.

People should never handle birds without gloves. People also should wash their hands with soap and water after discarding the gloves.

For more information regarding West Nile Virus or any of the programs provided by the Hancock County Health department, call (304) 564-3343 or go online to www.HancockCountyHealthDepartment.com