Henry County Health Department officials will accept dead birds for West Nile virus testing.

Henry County Health Department officials will accept dead birds for West Nile virus testing.

“Key to the surveillance efforts of West Nile virus throughout the state is the continued testing of local mosquito and bird populations,” said Dorothy David, environmental health services director for the health department.

Birds that will be accepted include: crows, blue jays, grackles, starlings, robins, cardinals, catbirds, mockingbirds, sparrows, finches, flycatchers, swallows, warblers, wrens, small- or medium-sized hawks and owls.

No waterfowl, gulls or larger birds such as vultures or endangered birds such as the bald eagle will be accepted.

Birds should be submitted only if they have not been damaged by scavenging animals and have not decomposed.

Birds submitted for testing should be “eligible” birds with no obvious cause of death such as birds killed by a gunshot or birds found crushed on a roadside that have most likely been killed by a motor vehicle. Birds dying from West Nile virus are usually found singly, scattered over a wide area in contract to birds that die from other causes (storm mortality, food poisoning, toxicants, etc) who often die in groups or clusters in a small area, said David.

Decomposed animals may be recognized as having a strong odor, deflated or dried eyes or maggots present. They may also be bloated.

Qualifying dead birds may be submitted to the health department’s Kewanee office.

For more information, phone (309) 852-0197.