Bird tests positive for West Nile

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002

A Martin species of bird found in South Point tested positive for the first confirmed case of the West Nile Virus in Lawrence County.

Four more birds are

currently being tested in Columbus by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, according to Sue Gunstream, environmental health director for the Lawrence County Health Department.

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With confirmed cases in birds in Jackson, Scioto and Gallia counties, it was only a matter a time before the virus was found in the county, she said.

"It doesn't surprise us at all," Gunstream said. "It

reinforces that residents need to rid their property of where mosquitoes can breed and take precautions to protect themselves when outside."

The virus can only be transmitted by mosquitoes and is commonly found in crows and blue jays. To fight mosquitoes, it is important to get rid of any standing water, to wear long sleeves and use some type of repellant when outside, she said.

Anything that holds water,

including ponds, weeds, alleys, drain ditches, bird baths, puddles and old tires, is a potential breeding ground.

Up to 10,000 mosquitoes can breed in a single tire, said Rick Fraley, owner of Ohio Pest Control.

As of July 26, 329 birds in 68 Ohio counties have tested

positive for the virus. Ninety-four pools of mosquitoes

tested positive in 15 counties. A pool consisits of one to 50 mosquitos, said Robert Restifo, medical entomologist for the Ohio Department of Health.

West Nile Virus is a viral disease that appeared in the United States in 1999. Since then, more than 140 cases have been found in humans. The disease is spread by infected mosquitoes and causes encephalitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord.

According to information provided by the Ohio Department of Health, people over 50 are most at risk. There is no specific treatment. Most people will not know they have been exposed and will fully recover.

Across the U.S., the West Nile virus has already killed seven people this year and infected at least 128 more.

Ohio Pest Control, in cooperation with the Ironton City Health Department, sprayed for mosquitoes yesterday in Ironton for a second time.

For more information, call the Lawrence County Health Department at 532-3962 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Michael Caldwell/The IrontonTribune