Sussex County Delaware

West Nile Strikes Bird
in Sussex for 1st Time
 
West Nile Virus

Infected Blue Jay Found
in Seaford Area Aug. 17

For the first time ever, a wild bird infected with West Nile Virus has been found in Sussex County, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control reported on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002.

The infected Blue Jay was found in Seaford on Aug. 17, the DNREC release said. The discovery brings the total number of infected birds in the state of Delaware this year to 60, with 55 in New Castle County and 4 in Kent County.

DNREC said that although a horse contracted West Nile encephalitis near Georgetown in 2001, what made the discovery of the Blue Jay significant was that it was the first wild bird found with the virus here.

While there have been 28 human deaths attributed to West Nile Virus and 555 total human cases of West Nile this year, there has never been a case of human West Nile encephalitis in Delaware.

DNREC provided no other details on the bird, but did announce the first finding this year of a West Nile positive mosquito sample, collected on Aug. 22 in the Claymont area in New Castle County.

Most of the birds that have tested positive for West Nile in New Castle County have been found in the northern area of that county to the north or west of the I-95 and I-495 corridor.

DNREC said the finding of the positive mosquito collection in Claymont was the second in state history. Another positivie mosquito collection was found near downtown Wilmington last year.

As it has in past announcements of the virus, DNREC said there is no cause for alarm but that people should use common sense and take extra precautions to avoid or reduce mosquito bites.

DNREC advises Delawareans to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors, apply insect repellent containing 30 percent of less DEET for adults and 10 percent or less DEET for children, and to avoid mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the evening.

Humans infected with West Nile usually only contract mild symptoms similar to a mild flu or cold. DNREC said humans rarely experience suddent onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion and muscle weakness. Individuals with those symptoms should see their doctors immediately, DNREC said.

The agency said that drought conditions have reduced mosquito populations this year but that there are still mosquitos capable of transmitting the disease to wild birds, horses and humans.

DNREC encourages those who find dead crows, blue jays or birds of prey such as hawks, falcons, eagles or owls that have not been killed by obvious traumatic injuries to report the findings to the Mosquito Control Section at one of the numbers below from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DNREC said that although West Nile Virus is not transmitted by handling birds that anyone who does so should wear gloves and avoid direct skin contact with the dead birds.

  • New Castle County (302) 323-4492
  • Kent or Sussex County (302) 422-1512
  • Evenings, weekends & holidays 1-800-523-3336
  • For human health questions about West Nile Virus, call DPH, (302)744-4541.
  • For questions about mosquito control, call DNREC, (302) 739-3493.
  • For questions about West Nile in animals, call DDA at 800-282-8685 and ask for poultry-animal health.

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