NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH MEMORANDUM
DATE: April 10, 2000
TO: Local health units (LHUs)
FROM: Millicent Eidson, MA, DVM, Director, Zoonoses Program, NYSDOH
SUBJECT: Guidelines for Reporting and Submission of Birds and Mammals, West Nile Virus
These guidelines for the year 2000 should replace all bird/mammal reporting and sample submission guidelines developed in 1999. See the New York State West Nile Virus Response
Plan on the DOH website (www.health.state.ny.us) for additional details on prevention, response,
and control; data systems; public education; and surveillance for mosquitoes, birds/mammals,
and human WNV cases. Laboratory capacity for the bird/mammal surveillance systems is not
yet available except for dead bird testing (see details below). Reporting of all submissions and
results will be maintained through the NYSDOH's Health Information Network (HIN). Please
monitor the WNV site on the HIN for updates on specimen submission guidelines. To facilitate
providing clarifications on any of these guidelines and sharing of information, LHUs are urged to
post inquiries about bird/mammal surveillance and monitor responses on the HIN, where
separate discussion groups have been established for each of the types of bird/mammal
Reporting ill/dead birds: All ill or dead birds should be reported by the LHU on the ILL/DEAD BIRD REPORT FORM, NEW YORK STATE, Year 2000 on the HIN, regardless of whether the bird is submitted for WNV testing.
- LHUs should develop a system for receiving telephone reports of ill/dead birds during off-hours as well as business hours if possible, for example, with an answering service or answering machine.
- Requests for HIN access for reporting dead birds should be directed to the NYSDOH Statistical Unit, 518-474-0548.
- Pending approval of HIN access, the Word version of the form (Appendix H) should be used, and faxed within a day of preparation to 518-474-4880.
- Direct reporting through the HIN is strongly recommended to facilitate rapid updating and use of the surveillance data. Data may be downloaded from the HIN by LHUs for use in multiple types of data management and analysis systems. If direct HIN data entry is not possible, LHUs may develop procedures for uploading their data into the HIN system using NYSDOH standards.
Submission of Birds for WNV testing: Dead crows reported to local health units as freshly dead (for example, the crow was seen ill then died, or appeared dead approximately within the past 24 hours) will receive priority for necropsy at the NYSDEC Wildlife Pathology Unit (WPU) and WNV testing at the NYSDOH's Wadsworth Center's Division of Infectious Diseases (DID).
- Species for laboratory testing:
- The priority for DID WNV laboratory testing is dead crows, up to a limit of 100 crows per week. No approval by DOH or the WPU is required before submitting crows for WNV necropsy and testing.
- If specimens from additional bird species do not cause this limit to be exceeded, they may be submitted by the WPU to the Wadsworth Center's DID for testing. The highest priority for WNV testing of other bird species by DID will be for those birds found to have necropsy findings compatible with WNV. Because other causes of death are likely for other species, the WPU will determine how many they wish to necropsy for possible WNV testing. Thus, LHUs should check with the WPU before submitting birds other than crows for necropsy and possible WNV testing.
- Dead Bird Collection: LHUs should work with local partners to develop procedures for getting the crows into the LHU for shipment to the WPU.
- Although the LHUs are responsible for reporting the birds through the HIN and coordinating their shipment to the WPU, they may wish to request assistance from other local agencies in picking up the birds.
- Ideally, LHUs should develop mechanisms to pick up dead crows on weekends and holidays if the WNV outbreak reappears. If such pick-up arrangements are not possible, LHUs may wish to provide a drop off site for the dead crows.
- Otherwise, those calling to report dead crows should be advised to refrigerate them in an ice chest or refrigerator not used for food, or to put ice packs on top of the bird and invert a pail over it, weighted down to avoid being dislodged, until the bird can be picked up.
- Dead birds should always be handled with gloves, even though there is no evidence that WNV can be transmitted by handling dead birds.
- Before shipping to the WPU, birds should be kept refrigerated by local health offices, in preference to freezing (freezing delays processing and may interfere with certain types of tests).
- Shipping containers and procedures: It is recommended that leak-proof, reuseable coolers/ice chests be purchased by local health units and used to ship birds to the WPU.
- Disposable, leak-proof, sturdy containers may also be used.
- The shipping containers should be clearly marked with the LHU's name, address, and phone number in indelible ink, and will be returned by the WPU.
- Rabies shipping containers should not be used for shipping any birds/specimens designated solely for WNV testing. Only mammals being tested first to rule out rabies, before WNV testing, should be sent in a rabies specimen container directly to the Rabies Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, DOH.
- Dead birds should be shipped with sealed ice packs; ice cubes or bag ice should not be used, to avoid having wet birds. During very hot conditions in the summer, LHUs may wish to consider purchase and use of special dry ice containers for shipping the birds (in which dry ice and the birds are separated in different parts of the container).
- If more than one bird is sent in the same shipping container, the birds should be individually sealed in separate plastic bags to reduce any chance of cross-contamination.
- LHUs should work with the WPU and their local DEC office to determine the best way to send the specimens (for example, overnight shipping, or DEC driving them, etc.).
- Shipping costs will be at the LHUs' expense (although costs may be reimbursable with other WNV and communicable disease expenses).
- Information on the bird must be submitted through the HIN or faxed as indicated in the Reporting section above.
- In addition, a laminated card provided by the WPU to LHUs must be provided in the shipping container with the bird(s), with the requested information written on the card using a permanent waterproof marker.
- The card will have a preprinted WPU number that must be entered on the HIN report form.
- If more than one bird is shipped in a container, care must be taken to indicate which card goes with which bird. The WPU number should be written with a permanent marker on the outside of the plastic bag containing the bird.
- Those citizens reporting or submitting dead birds for WNV testing should be informed that the testing system is for overall surveillance and response to the outbreak. Individual bird test results will not be provided to the public except at the discretion of the agencies involved in testing the bird.
- Contact Ward Stone of the WPU at 518-478-3032, email@example.com, for more information.
Other Wildlife: Consult with the WPU (518-478-3032) for authorization before submitting other species of birds and wildlife for WNV testing.
- Any ill/dead birds regardless of species should be reported using the HIN form, as indicated above.
- Dead mammals submitted to the WPU for WNV testing should also be reported on the HIN Ill/Dead Bird Report form by indicating the species in the "other species" field.
Mammals first being tested for rabies, and then WNV: Any mammal with a rapidly deteriorating encephalitis and the type of human contact that could lead to rabies exposure, should first be tested for rabies at the Rabies Laboratory, Wadsworth Center.
- Specimen submission guidelines are available on the Rabies Laboratory website: www.wadsworth.org/rabies, or by phoning 518-869-4527.
- If rabies tests are negative, the Wadsworth Center in consultation with the Zoonoses Program will determine whether additional testing for WNV is available and appropriate.
- Specimens from dead, rabies-negative horses will receive priority for WNV testing.
- Testing of other rabies-negative mammals will depend on availability of resources.
Domestic animals (livestock, pets, poultry). Other owned animals with neurologic signs should be thoroughly evaluated by a veterinarian.
- Acute and convalescent serologic specimens or cerebrospinal fluid should be taken when WNV infection is suspected.
- Practicing veterinarians will contact the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (518-457-3502) before submitting samples to discuss the need for WNV testing.
- Testing will take place at Cornell University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, after consultation with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.
- As with other diagnostic tests for owned animals, Cornell University will bill the practicing veterinarian, and the practicing veterinarian will bill the animal owner, for the costs of the tests.
Sentinel birds: Testing of serologic specimens from sentinel chicken flocks will be provided by the NYSDOH's Wadsworth Center, up to a limit of 300 specimens every other week.
- Testing will be available only for counties with current or past year WNV infection, or counties adjacent to those counties. The number of specimens that will be accepted from each county will be determined based on resources and the pattern of the outbreak. Initial testing will be restricted to 36 birds from each county every other week, from Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester counties, and 31 birds every other week from Sullivan, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Ulster counties.
- If additional capacity is developed at Wadsworth for testing of chicken sera, specimens may be accepted by Wadsworth for testing every week from the counties indicated above.
- LHUs will be responsible for purchasing and maintaining chicken flocks.
- NYSDOH will provide information to the LHUs about humane handling and maintenance of the sentinel chicken flocks, where to place the flocks, species to be used, etc., and will work with the LHUs on obtaining appropriate approval of animal care protocols.
- NYSDOH will also work with the LHUs to determine procedures for sample collection and submission to the Wadsworth Center.
Revised: May 2000