West Nile Virus in North Carolina

The North Carolina State Public Health Laboratory yesterday (Sept. 17) confirmed that a dead blue jay found in Cabarrus County is positive for West Nile virus (WNV), the first evidence this year of the disease found in North Carolina. The blue jay was discovered by a Concord resident last month and reported to the Pest Management Section of the Division of Environmental Health. In response, acting State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin has issued a Public Health Warning advising residents to be diligent in protecting themselves against mosquito bites.

"Announcing a Public Health Warning is simply our way of reminding residents to take steps that will prevent mosquito bites," Devlin said. "We knew that West Nile virus would come to our state eventually and we have been working closely with the county-level health and environmental officials to educate the public on what should be done. Now is the time the folks at home should begin to fully employ the preventative measures we have been telling them about."

West Nile virus was first detected in North Carolina last year in a dead crow found at Jordan Lake State Park in Chatham County by a conservation biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Any decision to spray for mosquitoes in North Carolina will be made by local health officials, based upon a number of factors including whether the area of concern is densely populated and weather patterns. Experts with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Public Health Pest Management Section will collect and test mosquitoes in the area to look for further evidence of the virus. Surveillance for the presence of West Nile virus in the rest of the state through mosquito and dead bird collection and testing will continue. Residents who find dead birds are encouraged to contact Public Health Pest Management officials by either calling 877/790-1747 or e-mailing NCWNV@NCmail.net. An online form for reporting dead birds is also available at http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/phpm/pages/WNV_Alert/Bird_Form/bird_form.html.

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