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Health department wants help spotting dead crows
The county health department is asking the public's help in tracking potential cases of West Nile virus in King County by reporting dead birds. Crows in particular die quickly from West Nile virus and clusters of dead crows may indicate that West Nile virus is present in the community. People should call 206-205-4394.
West Nile virus was not found in King County in 2010, but has been active here in previous years. Most people don’t feel the effects of the infection, but in some it can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including diseases of the brain and spinal cord.
In the United States in 2010, 1,021 cases of WNV disease in people were reported from 41 states, and 57 people died. People of all ages can get WNV disease, but people over 50 are more likely to become seriously ill.
Over the next three months, dead birds reported to Public Health will be collected for laboratory testing for West Nile virus if they are deemed suitable candidates for testing. To be tested, the bird must be a crow, raven, jay, or magpie, dead for less than 24 hours, and have no visible trauma or decay.
The health department also advises people to protect themselves from mosquitoes by eliminating their breeding habitat,
The mosquito most responsible for West Nile virus in this area is the northern house mosquito Culex pipiens, which prefers to lay eggs in standing water common around most houses. Even small amounts of water, such as in plant saucers or a clogged gutter, can produce many mosquitoes.
●Tip out containers that collect water, including barrels, buckets, wheelbarrows, bottles, wading pools, birdbaths, animal troughs and plant saucers
●Dump water off of tarps and plastic sheeting and get rid of used tires
●Clean garden ponds, circulate water in fountains and cover rain barrels with mosquito screens
●Clean leaf-clogged gutters and repair leaky outdoor faucets
●Repair ripped windows and door screens and make sure they fit tight so adult mosquitoes can’t get into your home
To avoid getting bitten when mosquitoes are out, people should wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks. People also should consider using an insect repellent. Information about safe and effective repellents may be found online.