DHEC wants help collecting dead birds for West Nile tests

      COLUMBIA,S.C. (WCIV) - The state's health department is asking the public to help themtrack West Nile virus by submitting dead birds for testing.

      "Anyonecan help us track West Nile virus by submitting dead blue jays, crows, housesparrows, and house finches for testing," said Chris Evans, a Ph.D.entomologist with the DHEC Bureau of Laboratories.

      Bird samplesare being collected until Nov. 30, Evans said. But there is a list ofguidelines that must be met before submitting a dead bird. The Department ofHealth and Environmental Control keeps an updated list on its website:

      The websitealso has information about bird drop-off sites.

      "Byfollowing those instructions, you can safely pick up and transport a bird tothe closest{}DHEC county public health department{}for testing," Evanssaid.

      The publiccan help DHEC by covering a much larger area of the state which helps officialsidentify the virus before it shows up in humans, Evans said.

      If a birdtests positive for West Nile, it is reported to mosquito sprayers that willtreat the area where the bird was found. Bird feed on the blood of birds andhumans, which can lead to the spread of the disease to the human population.

      Publichealth officials recommend the following tips to make areas safer and reducethe numbers of mosquitoes that might spread the virus:

      • Remove buckets, cups, bottles, flowerpots, plastic bags, tires or any water-holding containers.
      • Do not allow water to stagnate in low-lying areas of the yard, in boats or on tarps that cover yard items.
      • Keep birdbaths and pet bowls clean by scrubbing them and flushing with fresh water at least once a week.
      • Clean fallen leaves and other debris out of roof gutters and spouting.
      • Make sure outdoor trash cans have tight-fitting lids. If lids are not available, drill holes in the bottom of the can to allow water to drain.

      Additionalinformation on mosquito-borne diseases can be found at For updated informationabout recommended mosquito repellants, visit the CDC website at: