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Virus & Birds
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Virus& Birds

  1. Why should I report a dead crow or blue jay?
  2. What should I do if I find a dead crow?
  3. What information do I need to give to the person I talk to?
  4. When will they pick up the bird?
  5. What should you do if the bird isn't needed for testing?
  6. Do I risk exposure to the West Nile virus by handing a dead bird?
  7. How long does it take to test a dead bird for West Nile virus?
  8. Are crows the only birds affected by the West Nile virus?
  9. Can a dead bird pose a risk to my pet dog or cat?

Why should I report a dead crow or blue jay?

As part of Ohio's surveillance plan for West Nile virus, the state departments of agriculture and health are monitoring dead crows and blue jays in Ohio.  Crows and blue jays are related and are especially susceptible to the West Nile virus infection.  A dead bird that shows no other sign of injury or reason for death may have died from a West Nile virus infection.  Bird deaths have preceded outbreaks of this disease in other cities, so dead crows and blue jays can be an early warning that the West Nile virus is present.

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What should I do if I find a dead crow?

If you find a dead crow or blue jay, contact your local health deparment.

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What information do I need to give to the person I talk to?

You'll be asked for the specific location of the bird, including the address, county, and zip code, and when it was found.  They will also want to know how many birds you have found dead, and if there are any signs of injury. 

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When will they pick up the bird?

Because of the number of birds that may need to be tested, not every bird that is reported will be picked up for testing. 

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What should you do if the bird isn't needed for testing?

If testing is not required, use a shovel or wear gloves and double bag the bird in two plastic bags and dispose of it in the trash.

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Do I risk exposure to the West Nile virus by handing a dead bird?

There is no evidence that the West Nile virus is spread directly from dead birds to humans.  However, health professionals advise that barehanded contact with dead animals should always be avoided.  Use a shovel or wear gloves while handling any dead animal.

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How long does it take to test a dead bird for West Nile virus?

Because birds will be tested based on a predetermined set of priorities, not the date received, it is unsure of how long this process can take.

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Are crows the only birds affected by the West Nile virus?

No, but crows an their relatives (blue jays) are most likely to die.  Large numbers of North American Crows or other birds were observed becoming ill and dying.  Some exotic birds in the Bronx Zoo also diead.

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Can a dead bird pose a risk to my pet dog or cat?

To date, there is no evidence that a pet having any type of contact with a dead bird, including eating it, will develop West Nile virus. 

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Prepared for BIOG 154 Microscopic World -- Dr. Harry Kestler
Lorain County Community College -- Last modified: 04/18/03 -- Don't click here.