West Nile Virus testing beings in panhandle, people encouraged t - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

West Nile Virus testing beings in panhandle, people encouraged to report dead birds

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Monday is the start of the 2014 West Nile Virus surveillance and protection program.

Six mosquito traps will be set up around the area to trap and monitor mosquito activity.

People living in Scotts Bluff County are also encouraged to call the county health department if they spot any dead birds.

Scotts Bluff County Health Department- (308) 436-6636

Bill Wineman, Scotts Bluff County Health Director, says testing the mosquitoes and deceased birds for West Nile allows the health department to release an early warning for presence of the virus in the area.

Wineman says people should report any dead birds they may see, but the department will only be collecting certain species.

"Crows, magpies, hawks, owls and birds in that category are more routinely killed from the virus. So if we hear from someone who sees a dead bird in that category we'll try to pick it up and have it tested."

Wineman says only "fresh" birds can be tested, and with warming temperatures, there is only a short period of time that can go by before the deceased bird is too far gone for testing.

"So a good indicator, if people will look, is the eye," Wineman says. "If its still kinda sticking out and rounded, that's a pretty good indication that it's pretty fresh dead. If the eyeball has been sunken in and that eyeball is flatter or more concaved in, its probably too far gone to test. But we will take a call on any of them." 

Wineman says regardless if there are any positive reports yet, people should still take precautionary measures against mosquitoes.   

"Well the fact of the matter is, remember there is always a little bit of a delay from the time that we collect them to the time that we get the test results back. So what we rather not have is you be the first human case, but you've taken protection." 

Wineman says whether its a spray, lotion, or wipe, repellents containing ‘Deet’ are the most effective against mosquitoes.

Repellents should be applied to the arms, neck, face, and other areas of exposed skin, and also to clothing if possible.

People should reapply repellent if swimming, sweating, or spending extended time outdoors during peek mosquito activity times.

Wineman says mosquitoes are most active during the half hour before sunrise and sunset, as well as the the half after sunrise and sunset. 

He also recommends wearing long sleeves and avoiding standing bodies of water, where most mosquitoes congregate. 
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