DHEC wants help collecting dead birds for West Nile tests - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

DHEC wants help collecting dead birds for West Nile tests

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) – The state's health department is asking the public to help them track West Nile virus by submitting dead birds for testing.

"Anyone can help us track West Nile virus by submitting dead blue jays, crows, house sparrows, and house finches for testing," said Chris Evans, a Ph.D. entomologist with the DHEC Bureau of Laboratories.

Bird samples are being collected until Nov. 30, Evans said. But there is a list of guidelines that must be met before submitting a dead bird. The Department of Health and Environmental Control keeps an updated list on its website: http://www.scdhec.gov/birdtesting.

The website also has information about bird drop-off sites.

"By following those instructions, you can safely pick up and transport a bird to the closest DHEC county public health department for testing," Evans said.

The public can help DHEC by covering a much larger area of the state which helps officials identify the virus before it shows up in humans, Evans said.

If a bird tests positive for West Nile, it is reported to mosquito sprayers that will treat the area where the bird was found. Bird feed on the blood of birds and humans, which can lead to the spread of the disease to the human population.

Public health officials recommend the following tips to make areas safer and reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that might spread the virus:

  • Remove buckets, cups, bottles, flowerpots, plastic bags, tires or any water-holding containers.
  • Do not allow water to stagnate in low-lying areas of the yard, in boats or on tarps that cover yard items.
  • Keep birdbaths and pet bowls clean by scrubbing them and flushing with fresh water at least once a week.
  • Clean fallen leaves and other debris out of roof gutters and spouting.
  • Make sure outdoor trash cans have tight-fitting lids. If lids are not available, drill holes in the bottom of the can to allow water to drain.

Additional information on mosquito-borne diseases can be found at http://www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. For updated information about recommended mosquito repellants, visit the CDC website at:http://www.cdc.gov/westnile.

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