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Health department gears up for bird, mosquito testing for West Nile

A crow is tested for West Nile virus by La Salle County Health Department employees in 2016. The bird tested positive. The health department requests anyone who finds a dead crow, blue jay or robin to call 815-433-3366 for the bird to be tested.
A crow is tested for West Nile virus by La Salle County Health Department employees in 2016. The bird tested positive. The health department requests anyone who finds a dead crow, blue jay or robin to call 815-433-3366 for the bird to be tested.

The La Salle County Health Department will begin collecting dead birds Tuesday, May 1, and will continue this process until Oct. 15.

Dead birds are important sentinels for early detection of West Nile virus activity. During the past 16 years, West Nile virus activity has been documented throughout La Salle County.

Anyone who finds a dead bird should contact the health department’s Environmental Health Division at 815-433-3366.

The criteria the agency uses to determine if a bird is eligible to submit for testing:

The bird is dead, but the carcass is in good condition. 

Birds should be dead no more than about 48 hours prior to collection, and should not show signs of advanced decomposition (maggots, strong odor, dried or deflated eyes).

The bird shows no sign it died of causes other than disease. Birds with obvious injuries such as wounds or missing parts should not be submitted for testing. Likewise, crushed carcasses and birds found along roadways are not acceptable.

The bird must be one that is acceptable for testing.

At this time the health department is only collecting crows, blue jays and robins. To help identify the type of bird, go to lasallecounty.org for bird identification information.

As in past years, health department staff is getting ready to begin testing mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will be tested for West Nile virus. The mosquito collection and testing equipment was purchased with grant money.

The agency also utilized the grant money to buy a large quantity of mosquito larvicide, which is used to treat potential mosquito breeding sites. The larvicide will be distributed to licensed mosquito control applicators from local municipalities and villages throughout the county.

During the spring and summer months, health department staff extend outreach efforts to all city, municipal, village and township officials in the county.

Information on available educational brochures were distributed to hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, pet shelters, campgrounds, daycares, libraries and pool supply companies.

Contact the La Salle County Health Department at 815-433-3366 or go to lasallecounty.org for more information on the West Nile virus.

Reported human West Nile virus cases (by year):

2017: 1

2016: 1

2015: 0
2014: 1
2013: 1

2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0
2009: 0
2008: 0
2007: 2
2006: 1
2005: 1
2004: 5
2003: 1
2002: 11

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