West Nile found in Delaware chickens

A chicken sampled at a state monitoring site in Stanton was found to have the mosquito-borne disease on August 2.

Chickens kept at 24 monitoring stations statewide are checked for West Nile Virus every two weeks.  Last week was the first sign of the virus in the chickens.  Earlier this year, the virus was found in three wild crows in New Castle County and one in Kent County.  State health officials say there are indicators that 2012 could be a bad year for West Nile.

“The 2012 mosquito-disease transmission season is really only beginning, but preliminary indications suggest that 2012 might be a worse transmission year across the country than usual,” said Dr. William Meredith, Mosquito Control Section Administrator.  In order to help Mosquito Control stay on top of areas where the bugs are increasing, Meredith says residents should report “intolerable numbers” of biting mosquitoes to the state at 302-836-2555 for New Castle and northern Kent County including Dover, or 302-422-1512 for Sussex and southern Kent County.

The worst West Nile outbreak happened in 2003 when there were 9,862 human cases and 264 deaths nationwide.  That was also the worst outbreak year for Delaware as well, with 17 confirmed human cases and two fatalities.  

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Symptoms of West Nile Virus can be similar to a mild flu.  About 20 percent of victims develop fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash.  A very small percentage develop severe neurological disease resulting in meningitis or encephalitis.  That small percentage of patients are usually elderly.  

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