West Nile Virus May Have Arrived in Utah

West Nile Virus May Have Arrived in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Blood samples from two sentinel chickens in Carbon County showed evidence of West Nile virus and further samples have been sent off for definitive lab tests, state health officials said.

Fresh blood samples from the chickens were drawn this week and sent to the National Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, said Charles Brokopp, director of epidemiology and laboratory services for the state Department of Health. Test results should be back by early next week.

The original tests last week were run at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Utah State University in Logan.

Brokopp said the preliminary results do not mean the virus is necessarily in Utah yet.

This marks first time in the state's West Nile monitoring efforts that retesting has been needed with sentinel chickens.

Utah maintains several flocks of sentinel chickens statewide to watch for the virus, which can be deadly to humans. While chickens rarely become sick with West Nile, their blood can show signs of the virus.

West Nile previously was detected as far west as Wyoming and Colorado, and the mosquito-borne disease has been expected to arrive in Utah this year.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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