Sparrow in Berkeley County tests positive for West Nile

September 06, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A dead sparrow found at Bedington Crossroads in northern Berkeley County last month has tested positive for West Nile virus, and health officials are now focusing on trying to eliminate mosquitoes rather than sending birds away for testing.

Health officials learned the results Tuesday, said Twila Carr, chief sanitarian at the Berkeley County Health Department.

Carr said she does not know of any person in Berkeley County being tested for the virus, which is carried by mosquitoes.

This is the second confirmed West Nile case in the Panhandle, although health officials are waiting for the results of several other birds sent to a lab in Georgia for testing.


In Jefferson County, a dead crow found in Middleway on Aug. 16 tested positive for the disease.

Three birds tested positive in Washington County and two birds have tested positive in Franklin County, Pa.

Infected mosquitoes carry the virus and can spread it by biting a human, animal or bird.

Because a bird has tested positive here, health officials are focusing on preventing mosquito bites and killing the insects.

People outside, especially at night and during early morning hours, should wear insect repellent. Stagnant pools of water, like those found in old tires or birds baths, should be eliminated, Carr said.

She recommends that those who live near a stream put a larvacide, commonly called a "dunk," in the water. It is not harmful to humans or fish, Carr said.

In humans, West Nile virus symptoms are usually mild, but the most severe cases can be fatal. Older persons or those with weakened immune systems are at the most risk of suffering severe complications, health officials said.

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