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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: (Date)
Contact: _____County Health Department
(name/ title)
(telephone number)

County Health Department Launches West Nile Virus Surveillance

The _____ County Health Department has launched its surveillance activities for this year’s West Nile virus season, Administrative Director _____ said today.

“We are ready to accept wild dead birds for testing for West Nile virus,” _____ said. S/he said testing priority will be given to blue jays, crows, cardinals, bluebirds, and birds of prey, including hawks, owls, falcons and eagles. Should you find one of these dead birds in your yard or property, call the _____ County Health Department at (phone number) for instructions on how to submit the bird for testing.

Positive test results will help direct local officials on where to focus community mosquito control interventions, including larvicide treatment, spraying for adult mosquitoes, and mowing high grass areas. The _____ County Health Department is one of 27 counties testing wild dead birds as part of local West Nile virus control activities.

West Nile virus is spread through the bite of the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and then transmits the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals.

_____ suggested remembering the “4 D’s of Defense” to protect yourself against West Nile virus:

  • Dusk and dawn – Avoid outdoor activities during these prime times for mosquito activity.
  • Dress – Wear long pants and long sleeves when outside to cover the skin.
  • DEET – Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) when outdoors and reapply according to label directions.
  • Drain – Drain those items that collect standing water around your home, yard, or business. Scrub and refill pet water dishes and bird baths regularly.

In 2003, 79 persons were diagnosed with West Nile virus in Oklahoma, with no deaths. In 2002, 21 persons in the state were reported with the disease, and two persons died. Nationally in 2003, there were 9,858 human cases of West Nile virus disease; of that number, 2,863 suffered from severe neurological disease and 262 people died. Already in 2004, one human case has been reported in Ohio.

“West Nile virus can be a debilitating disease,” said _____. “We strongly urge _____ County citizens to begin now to practice mosquito control prevention activities around your home and business.”

For more information on West Nile virus, contact the _____ County Health Department at (phone number) or visit these Web sites: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/ow and
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm

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