Help DHEC track West Nile virus by sending them dead birds to study

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– The Department of Health and Environmental Control wants your help tracking the West Nile virus. Now through November 30, DHEC officials say  if you find any dead birds, submit them to the department for testing. Specifically, DHEC says they are looking for dead crows, blue jays, house finches and house sparrows.

“The public’s involvement with dead bird surveillance helps identify West Nile virus before it shows up in people,” said Dr. Chris Evans, State Public Health Entomologist with DHEC‘s Bureau of Environmental Health Services. “This is a great opportunity for the public to proactively assist their public health agency in staying ahead of a potential health risk.”

According to officials, mosquitoes that feed on infected birds carry the virus in their blood and can pass it on to humans and other animals after about a week or two.

DHEC provided the following instructions for safely handling deceased birds:

  • Don’t touch a bird, dead or alive, with bare hands. Use gloves or pick up the bird with doubled, plastic bags.
  • Keep the bagged bird cool until it can be placed on ice. If the bird carcass can’t be delivered to DHEC within 36 hours of collection, place it on ice in a cooler but do not allow water into the bags. Please do not refrigerate or freeze the carcass where food is stored.
  • Download and complete the Dead Bird Submission and Reporting Sheet for West Nile Virus and submit it, along with the dead bird, to a local DHEC office.

For more information, visit DHEC’s website.

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