Public Asked To Report Sick or Dead Wild Birds - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Public Asked to Report Sick or Dead Wild Birds in Delaware

Posted: 07/27/2017 11:03:00 -04:00 Updated:

DOVER, Del - The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish & Wildlife Mosquito Control Section is asking for the public's help in monitoring West Nile Virus in Delaware.  

DNREC is asking people to report sick or dead wild birds that may have contracted the virus.  West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease of that threatens the health of humans and horses that haven't been vaccinated.  

"We are interested in when and where West Nile virus might again appear in Delaware this year, and in monitoring the timing and locations of its possible spread throughout the state," said Dr. William Meredith, the Mosquito Control Section administrator.  Meredith said that this year's strategy is to collect and test a sample of wild birds found throughout Delaware into late September.  

The Mosquito Control Section requests that the public report sick and dead birds of only crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks, owls, and clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species.  Bird specimens should be dead for less 24 hours and not appear to have died by other obvious causes.

The Mosquito Control Section notes that uncollected wild bird specimens are unlikely to transmit WNV to humans, or to pets that come in contact with a sick or dead bird.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture's Poultry & Animal Health Lab will process the birds collected by DNREC.  Then the specimens will be submitted to the Division of Public Health Laboratory for virus testing.  

From July through mid-to-late October, DNREC's Mosquito Control Section also operates a statewide network of about 20 sentinel chicken stations placed in prime mosquito areas.  The stations "keep watch" for WNV and eastern equine encephalitis, another mosquito-born viral disease that affects horses and humans.  The DPH lab tests blood samples from the sentinel chickens for both viruses to help indicate if mosquitoes transmitted them from wild bird hosts to other animals.

"The prevalence of prime mosquito production habits in Delaware, combined with our high human population density, presents quite a challenge," said Meredith.  "Our approach to controlling mosquitoes has been effective in reducing the frequency of West Nile virus transmission and helping to prevent large outbreaks."  Meredith said the period of greatest concern for disease transmission is in late summer and early fall.  

Other mosquito-born diseases of concern in South and Central America, the Caribbean, the southern United States, and possibly Delaware, such as chikungunya and Zika viruses, according to DNREC's Public Affairs.  However, neither of these two diseases involves wild birds as host reservoirs.  Those diseases are transmitted person-to-person with no avian involvement.

WNV is transmitted primarily by the common house mosquito and possibly by the Asian tiger mosquito.  The disease first appeared in Delaware in 2001 and peaked in 2003 with 17 reported human cases and two fatalities.  Moreover, there were 60 WNV-stricken horses.  Delaware had no human cases of WNV in 2016.  Nationwide the Center for Disease Control recorded 2,038 reported human cases, 94 of which resulted in human deaths.  Regionally, 19 WNV human cases were reported in New York with death, 16 cases in Pennsylvania with two deaths, 11 cases in New Jersey with one death, eight cases in Virginia, six cases in Maryland, and one in Washington, D.C.  No deaths were reported in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Sick or dead birds can be reported to the Mosquito Control Section between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling Mosquito Control’s field offices:

  • New Castle County and Kent County from Dover north, Glasgow office: 302-836-2555
  • Remainder of Kent County and Sussex County, Milford office: 302-422-1512.

Callers to Mosquito Control’s field offices after business hours or on weekends or holidays can leave voicemail.

The phone numbers above may also be used to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes to help the Mosquito Control Section determine when and where to provide control services. For more information on Delaware’s Mosquito Control program, please call the main office at 302-739-9917, or click Delaware Mosquito Control.





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