Delaware wants to know about sick or dead birds

 (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

The state is asking Delaware residents to report sick or dead birds to its mosquito control unit for 2014 West Nile virus monitoring.

Starting Monday, the mosquito control section of Delaware’s Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control wants to hear about sick or dead crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks or owls, and clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species. 

“We are interested in when and where West Nile virus might first appear in Delaware this year and in monitoring the timing and locations of its possible spread throughout the state,” said Dr. William Meredith, Delaware mosquito control administrator. “Our sampling strategy this year will be to collect and test a sample of wild birds found throughout the state between early June and late September.”

While the majority of the infected are asymptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control warned that some cases will display flu-life symptoms or worse, develop into a serious neurological illness like meningitis. West Nile is transmitted to people primarily by the common house mosquito, and possibly by Asian tiger mosquitoes.

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The disease first appeared in Delaware in 2001, and peaked in 2003 when 17 human cases and two human fatalities were reported. At the time, 60 virus-stricken horses were also recorded. From 2004 through 2011, the numbers were lower in Delaware: Only one human case of West Nile virus was reported in 2011.

As one part of a larger national trend, Delaware saw a resurgence of West Nile in 2012, when nine human cases and one fatality were reported. Three human cases of West Nile virus were reported in 2013, but none were fatal.

“The prevalence of prime mosquito production habitats in Delaware, combined with our high human population density, presents quite a challenge, but our effective approach to controlling mosquitoes has helped reduce the frequency of West Nile virus transmission and prevent large outbreaks,” he said.

Sick or dead birds can be reported to mosquito control field offices between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday:

New Castle County and northern Kent County from Dover north, call mosquito control’s Glasgow office at 302-836-2555
Remainder of southern Kent County and all of Sussex County, call mosquito control’s Milford office at 302-422-1512

The phone numbers above may also be used to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes.

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