It's that time of the year, when state health officials want to be notified about dead birds. Stephanie Marquis with the Department of Health Services asks anyone who finds a dead bird to call the hotline at 1-800-433-1610.
“The reason we do this is, when we can identify it (West Nile), we can ask people to take extra precautions against mosquito bites,” Marquis explains. Most people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms, and about twenty percent of infected people will have mild symptoms, but a very few serious cases can develop with severe symptoms sometimes resulting in death – thus the interest in dead birds.
“Dead birds are really our early warning system for when West Nile is in an area,” Marquis says. “Mosquitos will feed upon birds, and if we notice the virus is in a bird, then we know that it's in an area. Then we can ask people to take those extra precautions to protect themselves.” Those precautions include limiting time outdoors, using mosquito repellents and eliminating standing water on your property.