The Department of Health Office of Public Health reports 21 birds in 17 parishes statewide have tested positive for West Nile virus. Caddo, Calcasieu, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vernon, Washington and West Baton Rouge parishes all have had positive birds. No human cases have been reported this year.
OPH has sent 345 birds to the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Diagnostic Lab for testing since March 21, the start date for this year’s West Nile surveillance program.
We are glad to see so many citizens taking part in our surveillance program,” said LDH Secretary David W. Hood. “In the event that human cases begin occurring, we believe this early detection plan will help us gather data to stay well-informed and aid prevention of the disease.”
During the 2002 outbreak, in 90 percent of the parishes where West Nile virus was found in humans, LDH surveillance detected it first in bird populations. Early detection allows mosquito abatement and prevention efforts to be targeted to specific communities and neighborhoods.
In addition to dead birds, the LSU Vet Lab is testing sentinel chickens for the disease. OPH also has received reports of 16 mosquito pools in five parishes testing positive for West Nile virus. That testing is done through each parish’s mosquito abatement office.
To protect yourself from 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, please visit the OPH Web site, www.FightTheBiteLouisiana.com.
REPORTING DEAD BIRDS
Call the nearest parish health unit to report a dead bird. Provide the location and species of birds (or at least size and color).
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.
Note: People 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.