Baton Rouge --- Two dead blue jays from Assumption and Jackson parishes and a dead cardinal from Union Parish have pushed Louisiana’s count of West Nile positive dead birds past 30. The total number of dead birds infected with the virus is now 33, with 541 birds tested this year and 3,091 reported.  The three parishes these new dead birds came from previously had no birds that tested positive for the virus.  West Nile specimens now have appeared in 24 parishes statewide. 

Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Diagnostic Lab has been testing dead birds since March 21, the official start date of 2003 West Nile surveillance.  Specimens have come from all areas of the state, implying that the disease is spreading across Louisiana. 

“With summertime and warmer weather just around the corner, and with the number of dead birds testing positive for West Nile rising, people must start taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “Citizens have been diligent in reporting dead birds to us. Now is the time for them to start being diligent in wearing mosquito repellant and removing standing water from around their homes.” 


During the Day
Call the nearest parish health unit to report a dead bird. Provide the location and species of birds (or at least size and color).

After Hours and Weekends  
Freeze the bird immediately and contact the nearest parish health unit the following business day. Or, citizens can call 1-800-256-2748. Press "3" and this voice mail will allow you to report a dead bird. Be sure to leave your name, phone number and the parish where the bird was found. There might be a slight delay in your call being returned. The voice mail system also provides the toll-free hotline for information on West Nile virus from the CDC.

NotePeople cannot contract West Nile virus by touching dead birds, but should take precautions when handling them. Do not handle a dead bird with bare hands and double bag it with plastic bags before bringing it to the health unit. 

In humans, West Nile virus typically spreads through bites from mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird.  The majority of people who get the virus experience no illness or an infection similar to a mild flu with fever, headache and fatigue. Rarely, the virus multiplies in the central nervous system and can cause encephalitis.  If you begin experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor or health care provider. 

Last year, LDH detection efforts consistently noticed the virus in birds before it appeared in humans, which allowed mosquito abatement and prevention efforts to be targeted to specific communities and neighborhoods.  No human cases have occurred so far this year. 

To avoid West Nile virus, apply mosquito repellant, wear long sleeves and long pants and avoid wearing perfumes or colognes when outside for prolonged periods of time. Also, remove any standing water from around your home and make sure your windows and doors have secure screens. 

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the OPH Web site,