Statement from The New York State Department of Health

Albany, June 22 – The State Health Department's Wadsworth Laboratory has confirmed two additional birds from Rockland County as positive for West Nile virus. One of the birds, a crow, was submitted from the town of Clarkstown. The other, a blue jay, was submitted from the town of Orangetown.

Both birds were laboratory confirmed through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) testing.

These findings are not surprising, given the previous discovery of infected crows in Rockland County and in Bergen County, New Jersey. Dead birds, especially crows, were present in large numbers in areas affected by last year's West Nile virus outbreak. Crows are particularly susceptible to the virus, and the vast majority of infected crows die. During last year's outbreak, far more birds were confirmed to be infected with the virus than there were cases of human illness.

For this reason, the latest laboratory results should not alarm the public. However, they do indicate that Rockland County's enhanced control efforts, including additional larviciding, are appropriate. Although no positive human cases or mosquitoes have yet been detected, continued surveillance for dead birds, human cases of encephalitis and infected mosquito pools also is essential. Rockland County residents and those who live in counties previously affected by West Nile virus need to continue to be vigilant about personal protection, as well. Use of a mosquito repellent should be considered during outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active and feeding (dusk to dawn) or, preferably, individuals should avoid likely mosquito habitats during those times of day.

To minimize the possibility of mosquito bites, people should replace or repair broken screens and install new screens as needed and eliminate stagnant water where Culex mosquitoes (the species associated with transmission of West Nile virus) breed:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar outdoor items that hold water;
  • Remove all discarded tires from your property;
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors;
  • Clean clogged rain gutters and make sure they continue to work properly;
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use;
  • Change water in bird baths at least every four days;
  • Clear vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds;
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs;
  • Drain water from pool covers; and
  • Use landscaping to eliminate low spots where standing water accumulates.

Individuals who wish to report dead birds should contact their County health department.

6/22/00–72 OPA