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Health department begins dead bird surveillance

Department also preparing to control mosquito population

OTTAWA — The LaSalle County Health Department began collecting dead birds on May 1 and will continue until Oct. 15. Dead birds are important sentinels for early detection of West Nile virus activity.

West Nile virus generally appears in birds and mosquitoes before it is transmitted to humans. Over the past 17 years, West Nile virus activity has been documented throughout LaSalle County.

If you find a dead bird, contact the Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at 815-433-3366.

Below is the criteria to determine if a bird is eligible to submit for testing.

• The bird is dead, but the carcass is in good condition. Birds should be dead no more than about 48 hours prior to collection, and should not show signs of advanced decomposition (maggots, strong odor, dried or deflated eyes).

• The bird shows no sign it died of causes other than disease. Birds with obvious injuries such as wounds or missing parts should not be submitted for testing. Likewise, crushed carcasses and birds found along roadways are not acceptable.

• The bird must be one acceptable for testing. At this time, the health department is only collecting crows, blue jays and robins. To help identify the bird, visit the health department’s website at

As in past years, health department staff are preparing to begin testing mosquitoes for West Nile virus.

The collection and testing equipment was purchased with grant money that was also used to purchase a large quantity of mosquito larvicide. The larvicide is used to treat potential sites and has been distributed to licensed mosquito control applicators from local municipalities and villages throughout the county.

Also, during the spring and summer months, health department staff extends outreach efforts to all city, municipal, village and township officials in the county. Information on available educational brochures were distributed to local hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, pet shelters, campgrounds, daycares, libraries and pool supply companies.

For more information on West Nile virus, call the LaSalle County Health Department or visit its website.

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