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Dead Birds May Signal West Nile Virus

Dead Birds May Signal West Nile Virus


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Jed Boal Reporting...West Nile Virus has not yet arrived in Utah, but health officials want the public to help spot it when the virus does appear. They want more eyes in the state on the lookout for the first signs.

West Nile Virus killed nearly 300 people in the U-S last summer, but did not make it to Utah.

When you're outside this summer, keep your eyes peeled for dead birds, and you could help in early detection of the virus.

Birds in the corvid family -- like magpies, several species of blue jays, and crows and ravens are the most common carriers of the virus.

Raptors like owls, falcons and hawks also carry the virus.

The potentially deadly virus is carried by birds and transmitted to humans or horses primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Since it first appeared in the New York City area in 1999 it has progressively moved across the U-S. Utah is one of four states in which the virus has not been detected.

Identifying an infected bird could be the first evidence.

Royal DeLegge/SLVHD Director of Environmental Health: “THE MONITORING SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE IS INTENDED TO IDENTIFY THE PRESENCE OF THE VIRUS. BUT, IT HAS A LOT OF HOLES IN IT. WE DON'T HAVE SECURE BORDERS SO IT COULD APPEAR ANYWHERE IN THE STATE."

The Salt Lake Valley Health Department and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are working together in this aspect of surveillance of the virus.

Early detection of West Nile will enable us to minimize exposure and protect ourselves from bites.

The simplest things you can do include getting rid of standing water in your yard and wearing long sleeves and DEET bug repellent if you're outside at dawn and dusk.

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