Dead bird tested positive for West Nile
Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2006
A dead bird in Pearl River County tested positive for West Nile Virus, however the Health Department’s web site states that no human cases have been reported in this county.
County resident Emmett Dupas said previously he’s noticed four to five dead birds around his home but by the time he had found them, ants had worked over the carcasses.
“I couldn’t tell what killed them, whether another bird or hawk because the ants had gotten to them,” Dupas said.
On Aug. 21 of this year, Dupas said he found a dead bird before the ants, so he took it to the Health Department for testing. Last week Dupas got results back stating that the bird, a cedar waxwing, tested positive for West Nile. Dupas said that the Health Department told him it is uncommon for that type of bird to test positive for the virus. Blue jays, cardinals and crows commonly are the birds that test positive.
Dupas said he brought his wife to the doctor’s office that same day he found the tested bird because she was ill. At the time the test results for the bird were not available, so the doctor told them it was possibly a kidney infection. Weeks later she still had not gotten better, Dupas said.
“I’m afraid to bring my grandkids over here right now,” he said.
After getting the results back on the bird Dupas said he planned to take his wife back to the doctor. Results of that visit are not available at this time.
As of Sept. 8, 2006, only one bird has tested positive, the one Dupas found, and no human cases of the virus have been reported, according to http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/14,3702,93,63.html. Those figures also state that Forrest County had the highest reported number of human cases, 19, but no positive animal reports. Hinds county had five reports of animals testing positive and nine reported cases of humans with the virus. Mosquito pool testing in Pearl River County reported no cases of West Nile as of Sept. 1, 2006.
Liz Sharlot, director of communications for the Mississippi Department of Health, said that West Nile is present in the state of Mississippi and the rest of the United States.
“We encourage all Mississippians to take all precautions,” Sharlot said.
Sharlot said that August and September are peak months for the virus, since it is spread by mosquitoes. Residents should take precautions such as wearing mosquito spray, long sleeve shirts and pants, staying indoors during peak mosquito hours, and eliminating pools of standing water where mosquitoes breed. While the majority of cases are mild, there have been deaths attributed to the virus.
“It certainly can be very serious, it can lead to coma and death,” Sharlot said.
There were only 73 reported human cases of the virus in 2006 in Mississippi, according to http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/14,0,93.html.
“Only one out of every 150 to 200 people exposed to the virus will become ill, and fewer than 10 percent of clinically ill patients will die,” according to The Southern House Mosquito and Related Species; Biology and Control, a literary work from the Mississippi State Extension Service. The document can be viewed by visiting http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/14,0,93.html and downloading the link entitled “Mosquito biology and control: The mosquito vectors of West Nile”.
The Mississippi Health Department site states that most infections of the virus are mild and not clinically apparent with about 20 percent developing the mild case of West Nile fever. Incubation of the virus is between three to 14 days with symptoms lasting from three to six days, according to http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/14,887,93,154.html. The mild form of the virus shows symptoms such as, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, headache, rash, malaise or a feeling of unwellness with no specific symptoms, anorexia, muscle pain and swelling of the lymph nodes, according to the site.