State Agencies Ask Floridians To Look For West Nile Virus

The Florida Departments of Health (DOH), Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) are asking Floridians to help determine if West Nile virus (WNV) arrives in the state.

Dead bird surveillance has proven to be an early indicator of WNV in other states. The public is encouraged to report dead bird sightings, especially crows, via the Internet at http://wld.fwc.state.fl.us/bird. If people do not have access to the Internet, they can contact their local county health department or regional Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission office. So far, WNV has not been detected in people, horses, dead birds, sentinel chickens or live wild birds tested in Florida.

West Nile virus can be transmitted to people when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person. WNV was first discovered in the United States last summer (1999) in New York. Since then, it has spread down the eastern seaboard as far south as North Carolina. While WNV has not yet been identified in Florida, migrating birds may bring the virus into the state.

Weekly summary reports for all WNV surveillance, including veterinary, avian and human, are posted on DOH's web site at http://www.doh.state.fl.us, click on "Epidemiology," then "Health Topics," "West Nile Virus." The public can report dead birds by using a link found on this site.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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