Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Allegheny County's West Nile Status Assessed

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is hoping to determine the strength and pervasiveness of the West Nile virus in the area through its annual surveillance initiative. ACHD spokesman Guillermo Cole says this effort is fueled in large part by public cooperation in limiting standing water where mosquitos may breed and reporting certain species of dead birds. "Those species include crows, hawks, owls, blue jays, and falcons, so anytime someone sees a dead bird of that species, we ask them to report that. In addition, if anyone sees five or more dead birds of any species, we'd also like to know about that," says Cole. Though annual reports of bird and human instances indicate the decline of the virus in the area, Cole says mosquitos are still testing positive for the virus and thus the threat of human infection remains. Mosquitos pass the virus on to birds and birds back to those insects, but birds cannot pass it to humans; only mosquitos can do that. If an infected bird is found in a particular area, Cole says mosquito control work will be done in that community. Anyone who wishes to report a dead bird should call ACHD at (412) 687-2243 or visit the department's website at achd.net.

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