Health Dept. accepting birds for West Nile testing 

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments have announced that with the warm summer weather beginning, so does the season for West Nile Virus infection.  Dorothy David, Health Department Environmental Health Services Director notes, “Key to the surveillance efforts of West Nile Virus throughout the state is the continued testing of the local mosquito and bird populations.  Mosquitoes and birds are the key vectors of West Nile virus transmission.  Therefore, the Health Department would like to alert area residents that they will be accepting dead birds for West Nile Virus testing.”

David adds, “Birds that will be accepted would include the following: Perching Bird species: crows, blue jays, grackle, starling, robin, cardinal, catbird, mockingbird, sparrows, finches, flycatchers, swallows, warblers, wrens, and small or medium sized hawks and owls.”

Birds submitted for testing should be “eligible” birds with no obvious cause of death, i.e. or birds killed by a gunshot or birds found crushed on a roadside that are most likely killed by motor vehicles.  Birds dying from West Nile Virus are usually found singly, scattered over a wide area.

In contrast, birds that die from other causes (storm mortality, food poisoning, toxicants) often die in groups or clusters in a small area.

Please note, no waterfowl, gulls, larger birds such as vultures, endangered birds including the bald eagle will not be accepted for testing.  Birds should only be submitted if they have not been damaged by scavenging animals and are not decomposed.  Decomposed animals can be recognized as having a strong odor, deflated or dried eyes, maggots present, or bloated from decomposition gases.  Those specimens should be discarded.

Dead birds can be submitted to the Health Department Main Office, 4424 US Hwy 34, Kewanee starting immediately.

For more information on dead bird collection or West Nile Virus surveillance, contact the Health Department at (309) 852-0197 or visit our website at, find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments, or Follow Us on Twitter.

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