For Immediate Release: August 31, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health announced today that a crow discovered in Brattleboro has tested positive for West Nile virus. The bird, the first confirmed case of the virus in the state this year, was collected on Aug. 13 and tested positive for the virus on Aug. 29.
A total of nine birds tested positive for the virus last summer, the first on Aug. 18, 2006.
No human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Vermont since 2003. The Health Department has received 278 dead bird reports this season.
“This is the seventh year of our surveillance program and a good time to remind people that West Nile Virus reaches its peak late in the summer when the virus has had time to develop in the mosquito population,” said Health Department Epidemiologist Patsy Tassler. “Before a long holiday weekend, it’s a good reminder for Vermonters to take precautions and avoid exposure to mosquitos especially at dusk and dawn when they are most active.”
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.
The Health Department also recommends that people wear long sleeves and pants 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 Health Department 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.