New York City Sentinel Chicken Positive for West Nile In Preliminary Tests

Fifth Bird In New England Found Positive This Year

New York City Health Commissioner Neal L. Cohen, M.D., announced Thursday that a blood sample taken on June 8 from a chicken being monitored by the Health Department in Corona, Queens, has been preliminarily found to be positive for the West Nile virus. The test on the chicken was performed at the Cornell Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Ithaca, NY. The Department is awaiting confirmation on these results which are expected in the next several days from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Veterinary Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture in Ames, Iowa.

The chicken was in a flock of sentinel chickens placed at this site to provide an early detection system to determine whether West Nile virus appeared in New York City. Thirteen other flocks have been established at sites citywide where chickens are being tested weekly for the presence of the virus.

The Corona-based flock of chickens had been tested weekly and found to be negative for the virus for the past five weeks. West Nile virus has not been found among the 91 dead birds found throughout the City sent to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation for testing. Additionally, none of the approximately 350 pools of mosquitoes collected from 114 traps placed in 60 sites citywide, and sent to the CDC for testing, have been found to be positive for the virus. This includes several pools of mosquitoes collected from traps near to the site in Corona where the chicken flock is based.

Dr. Cohen said, "This finding underscores the importance of our intensive efforts to test birds, sentinel chickens and mosquitoes, as well as to conduct human surveillance in cooperation with medical providers, to identify any possible return of West Nile virus as early as possible. In addition to these surveillance activities, the City has been carrying out a widespread larviciding campaign to reduce mosquito breeding activity and, through a public education campaign, has urged New Yorkers to eliminate standing water around their homes. Additionally, New York City has been working closely with the State, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other partners to proceed with its plan to prevent human cases of West Nile-related illnesses."

For information on West Nile virus, or the potential spraying activities to take place next week, New Yorkers may call the DOH's information line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-877-WNV-4NYC (1-877-968-4692). (New Yorkers who use TTY/TDD can call 212-788-4947 weekdays from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m.). Extensive information is also included on the City's Web site at

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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