For Immediate Release: August 21, 2006
Media Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON - The Vermont Department of Health announced today that a crow discovered in Middlebury has tested positive for the West Nile virus. The bird, the first confirmed case of the virus in the state this year, was found on Aug. 7 and tested positive for the virus on Aug. 18.
Crows are common carriers of the virus, which is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Vermont. Vermont’s first human case was documented in 2002, three cases were reported in 2003 and no human cases have been reported in the past two years.
West Nile virus surveillance in Vermont is jointly coordinated by the Agency of Agriculture and the Vermont Department of Health. The state tests dead birds, traps and tests mosquitoes, and tests people and horses that have symptoms consistent with the virus.
“Our surveillance program, now in its sixth year, allows us to track the activity of the virus,” said Health Department Epidemiologist Patsy Tassler. “Late summer is when the risk of human cases is highest, because mosquitoes have had all spring and summer to pick up the virus.”
The Health Department recommends that people limit their outdoor time at dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves and pants when possible, and use an insect repellent – carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use insect repellents that contain DEET on infants.
Vermonters should also drain areas where water can collect, such as old tires, rain gutters, bird baths, and any other containers that can hold water.
Vermonters are urged to report dead birds by calling 1-800-913-1139 or their local district health office (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays). Department staff will collect and test some of the birds for its West Nile virus surveillance efforts.
More information about West Nile virus can be found at the Vermont Department of Health website healthvermont.gov.