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SC health company looks for submissions of dead bird types to help track West Nile infection | SC Climate and Environment News


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The state health department wishes to much better comprehend the West Nile infection in South Carolina, and citizens here can help by sending a variety of departed bird types for laboratory screening.

Submissions help the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control determine boosts in infection activity in a specific location. 

Last year, 78 birds were checked from 21 counties. Nine of them were favorable for West Nile, and 2 checked favorable for an infection called Eastern equine sleeping sickness. 

West Nile infection activity differs each year. Three cases in dead birds were reported by DHEC in 2021. There was just one case in 2020.

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An average of about 27 dead birds annually given that 2002 were discovered to have the West Nile infection, according to information from DHEC.

Annual screening might help suggest mosquito-borne illness activity, however that depends upon appropriate varieties of dead birds being sent. 

West Nile Virus Death In The Midlands Confirmed By Dhec

The public’s involvement in DHEC’s dead bird security program can help the company determine West Nile infection prior to it starts impacting individuals, said Dr. Chris Evans, the state’s public health entomologist. 

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“This is a unique chance for the general public to proactively help their public health company in remaining ahead of a possible health threat,” Evans said in a press release. 

The company is accepting just recently deceased crows, blue jays, house finches and house sparrows through Nov. 30 if they appear unscathed and not decomposed. These types are more vulnerable to the infection than others. 

Mosquitoes end up being contaminated with the infection when they feed upon contaminated birds that bring the infection in their blood. After about one to 2 weeks, contaminated mosquitoes can then transfer the infection to individuals and other animals. 

West Nile infection is the leading triggers most mosquito-borne illness in the continental United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases usually happen throughout mosquito season from summertime through fall.

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August and September are peak months in South Carolina.

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Most individuals contaminated with the infection have no signs, and threat of severe health problem is low. But it is possible for for possibly deadly swelling of the brain, or sleeping sickness,  to happen in contaminated individuals, said DHEC state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. 

“The main method to get West Nile infection is from the little bit of a contaminated mosquito, which is why mosquito bite avoidance and control are some crucial in minimizing human direct exposures,” Bell said. 

A high rate of birds contaminated with the illness suggests a general boost of the infection in a specific location.

DHEC said it informs regional authorities if there is sign of increased West Nile infection activity within their neighborhood so they can work to lower the threat of infections in individuals and animals.

Mosquito control is handled at the regional level.

Dhec Offers Tips For Avoiding Mosquito Bites

Those who wish to take part in the dead bird security program this year must send the animals to DHEC at regional health and ecological affairs workplaces. 

A couple of actions must be required to securely gather a dead bird: 

– Do not touch a departed or living bird with bare hands. Use gloves or get the bird with doubled plastic bags.

– Keep the bagged bird cool up until it can be put on ice or in a fridge. If the carcass can’t be provided to DHEC within 36 hours of collection, freeze it up until it can be taken or delivered to the company.

– Download and finish a Dead Bird Submission and Reporting Sheet for West Nile Virus, and take the sheet and dead bird to a regional DHEC Health or Environmental Affairs workplace throughout regular business hours. 

Go to or call the Vector-Borne Diseases Laboratory at 803-896-3802 or vector for more details. 

Follow Shamira McCray on Twitter @ShamiraTweets.

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