MADISON (WKOW)-- State health officials reactivated the statewide hotline for people to report dead birds in an effort to combat and track West Nile virus
People can call 1-800-433-1610 to arrange to have the bird tested for WNV. Hotline staff can answer questions about dead birds and provide information on safe handling and disposal. People should not handle dead birds with their bare hands.
"Dead birds act as an early warning system for WNV," said Dr. Seth Foldy, State Health Officer. "Finding the virus in birds indicates that it may be present in local mosquito population bites, triggering special prevention and insect-control measures."
WNV is spread to people by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. Mosquitoes get infected with it by feeding on infected birds and can then transmit the virus to other animals, birds, and humans.
Since 2001, the Department of Health Services has monitored wild birds, horses and humans to check the spread of WNV. In 2002, the state documented its first human infections, with 52 human cases. This was followed by 17 human cases in 2003, 12 in 2004, 17 in 2005, 21 in 2006, 12 in 2007, 8 in 2008 and one in 2009.