Delaware environmental officials have detected the first signs of West Nile virus to be discovered in the state this year.
Delaware environmental officials have detected the first signs of West Nile virus to be discovered in the state this year. The virus was found in a pair of “sentinel” chickens that are frequently monitored for signs of West Nile. In response to the viruses first appearance, state officials will step up their efforts to reduce the mosquito population. Over the past few years, the virus has popped up much earlier in the summer, as early as June. It’s not clear whether this year’s late discovery of the virus means that it will be a light year for the virus because the West Nile season runs through October.
The worst ever outbreak of West Nile in Delaware happened in 2003. That year, there were 17 confirmed human cases with two fatalities. Also that year, 63 horses contracted West Nile.
There is a vaccine now available to protect horses from West Nile. There’s no such vaccine yet for humans though. State Veterinarian Heather Hirst urged horse owners to help with preventing the spread of the virus by getting their horses vaccinated. She is also recommending that horses without the vaccine should be brought indoors during peak mosquito times, that is, dawn, dusk, and the overnight hours.
State officials are on the look out for dead or sick birds, specifically crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins hawks and owls. If you see any of those species that are on your property, you can call Delaware Mosquito Control between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you live in New Castle County or north western Kent County, you can call 302-836-2555. If you live somewhere else in Delaware, call 302-422-1512.
Click here for more tips from the CDC on fighting West Nile virus.