West Nile Virus Confirmed In Virginia

Virginia's Commissioner of Health E. Anne Peterson, MD, MPH, announced on Oct. 13 that a dead crow found in Prince Edward County in Southside Virginia has been confirmed to have West Nile virus. The crow is the first bird to test positive for West Nile virus in the state. No horses or humans have contracted the disease in Virginia.

So far, this is a single finding, and according to Peterson, recent frost in the area has probably killed many of the mosquitoes.

The infected crow was found by a citizen near an area known as Darlington Heights near Farmville. The crow tested positive for West Nile virus in the Virginia Department of Health lab in Norfolk on Oct. 4, and the case was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta."

The Virginia health department is expanding surveillance for West Nile virus to include all dead wild birds in Prince Edward County and in the immediately surrounding counties of Charlotte, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Amelia, Cumberland, Buckingham and Appomattox. Bird surveillance in Virginia originally focused on crows, blue jays and raptors. Now, any species of wild bird found in Prince Edward or the counties immediately bordering it should be reported to the local health department. The virus is still most commonly found in crows but has been found in other bird species in the Northeast this year.

According to Assistant State Epidemiologist Suzanne Jenkins, VMD., MPH, "The public should call the local health department as soon as they find a dead bird. A bird that has been dead for more than 24 hours cannot be accepted for testing, because it is probably too decomposed. Sunken eyes and the presence of fly larvae (maggots) are good indicators that the bird has been dead too long." Jenkins is the chairperson for the Virginia Interagency Arbovirus Task Force. The task force is advising state officials on conducting surveillance for West Nile virus in dead birds, trapped mosquito pools, sentinel chickens, horses and humans.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after biting birds with the virus.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Virginia Department of Health's web site at www.vdh.state.va.us, and click "West Nile Virus Update."

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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