Hancock County officials give West Nile advice

NEW CUMBERLAND — The Hancock County Health Department has launched its annual dead bird surveillance program to monitor for signs of the West Nile virus in the area.

Residents are asked to contact the health department at (304) 564-3343 if they see any dead birds in the county. In some cases — when they have been dead less than 24 hours, do not show signs of decay or trauma — health department staff will collect the birds and send them to the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services for testing.

If the bird is not needed for testing, health department officials say the bird can be discarded in the regular trash, using two garbage bags. Officials note dead birds should never be handled without gloves, and advise residents to wash their hands with soap and water after handling the dead bird.

West Nile Virus and La Crosse Encephalitis are carried by mosquitoes. The diseases may be spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Neither condition can be spread from casual human to human contact, officials note.

Symptoms from the virus include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, confusion, weakness, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck.

Each year, officials state, mosquitoes have infected birds, horses and humans with the viruses. They advise finding ways to control the mosquito population, including by removing any objects that might collect water and not drain, often changing water in wading pools, bird baths and pet water bowls, cleaning rain gutters, filling or draining low spots where water collects, keeping windows and doors “bug tight,” and take advantage of spring cleanup opportunities in the community.

For more information regarding West Nile Virus or any of the programs provided by the Hancock County Health Department, call (304) 564-3343 or find them online at www.HancockCountyHealthDepartment.com or through Facebook.