Got dead birds? Call the state
Dawn R. Dugle
Photo: Image by Kristyna Wentz-Graff - Journal Sentinel
MILWAUKEE - The State of Wisconsin wants to know if you see dead birds in your neighborhood. Not out of morbid curiosity or something nefarious, they're looking for signs of West Nile Virus.
"Certain dead birds can act as an early warning system for West Nile Virus activity in an area," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer.
If they find West Nile in the birds, it means the virus is out there in the mosquito population. Then the State can take preventative measures.
West Nile Virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Only one in five people will have symptoms which begin within three to 14 days. Those symptoms include: fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes or skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. In rare cases West Nile can have additional symptoms, up to and including death.
Preventing mosquito bites:
· Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
· Apply insect repellent to skin and spray clothing with insect repellent because mosquitoes may bite through clothing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using products that contain active ingredients approved and registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These products display an EPA registration number on the label.
· Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts to reduce bites.
· Repair window and door screens to prevent mosquito entry.
· Properly dispose of items that hold water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, pots or discarded tires.
· Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
· Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats and canoes when not in use.
· Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
· Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.
· Trim tall grass, weeds and vines because mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
· Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.
So back to the birds. What do you do if you see a dead one? First of all, don't pick it up with your bare hands. Use gloves, or a clean plastic bag to pick it up. Then call the state Dead Bird Reporting Hotline: 1-800-433-1610.