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OTTAWA — La Salle County Health Department began collecting dead birds May 20 and will continue the process through Oct. 15.
“Dead birds are important sentinels for early detection of West Nile virus activity,” a health department press release read. “During the past 11 years, West Nile virus activity has been documented throughout La Salle County. La Salle County citizens should report any dead crows, blue jays, robins, cardinals, catbirds, finches, grackles, starlings, mockingbirds, sparrows, flycatchers, swallows, warblers and wrens to the Environmental Division at (815) 433-3366.”
Birds submitted for testing should be “eligible birds” that have no obvious cause of death such as being found crushed in a roadway and most likely killed by a car or truck, or birds killed by a gunshot. Birds submitted should be believed to be dead for less than 48 hours. Birds should only be submitted if they have not been damaged by scavenging animals and are not decomposed.
Health Department staff is also getting ready to begin testing mosquitoes, the vector for West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis, again this year. The mosquito collection and testing equipment was purchased with grant money.