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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2003
CONTACT: Don Pickard, Health Department, (816) 840-2548

West Nile virus assumed active in all portions of Kansas City

Dead birds found in various parts of Kansas City have tested positive for West Nile virus. This is an indication that the virus is probably present in all areas of the city.

Dead birds testing positive for West Nile virus recently have been picked up in the Clay County portion of Kansas City and in the midtown area. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports that a bird found west of Kansas City in Platte County tested positive. Last week, the Health Department announced that a bird from the southeast part of Kansas City tested positive for West Nile virus.

Health Department officials are focusing on preventing the spread of West Nile virus to humans. Prevention is critical to public health because there is no effective treatment for West Nile virus. The Health Department urges residents to take the following preventive measures to reduce possible West Nile virus exposure:
Wear clothing that protects you from mosquitoes, including light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants
Carefully apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothing and exposed skin, following the instructions on the product
Have window and door screens installed or repaired to keep mosquitoes out of the house
Stay indoors at dawn and dusk whenever possible
Clean up standing water outside, dump bird baths, plant saucers, rain gauges, toys and other containers that may hold water, every three to five days
Consider using larvicide in areas of standing water that cannot be cleaned up, changed, or drained.

Health Department officials emphasize that dead birds are not the problem. Dead birds are an early sign the West Nile virus is present and serve as an indicator of the level of virus activity present. Birds do not infect people; mosquitoes infect people.

While the department will no longer pick up birds for testing, department officials strongly encourage residents to continue reporting dead crows and blue jays to the West Nile virus Hotline, (816) 513-6140. This will help Health Department officials identify areas of the city that might need enhanced mosquito control efforts. Updated information on the Dead Bird Report Map can be found on the City’s Web site at http://www.kcmo.org/health/deadbird.pdf.

    
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