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CONTACT: Melissa Henrich, Media/Public Relations Coordinator, Health Department, (816) 840-2548 (pager)

Dead bird index increases

During the week of Aug. 12, the Kansas City, Mo., Health Department received 776 reports of dead birds, 132 of which were crows. The Health Department continues to count the number of dead crows per square mile in six zones of the city to establish a predictive index from which to draw conclusions.

In Zone C, which extends from the Missouri River south to 75th Street, and from State Line Road east to Prospect Avenue, reached an index of 3.18. Based on the national experience, human cases can occur when the crow index is greater than 1.0, and outbreaks can occur when the index is greater than 1.5.

No human cases have been identified in Kansas City so far. However, because the index has reached a level at which human cases are likely, the Health Department is providing guidance to help physicians work with local public health agencies to ensure public health protection for patients who might be at risk of infection from West Nile virus. Missouri physicians are encouraged to test for, and are required to report mosquito-borne diseases.

The Health Department has conducted a dead bird surveillance program for the past two years to identify, as early as possible, the presence and extent of the spread of West Nile virus in Kansas City. This program ceased during the winter months but resumed in April 2002. Weekly crow indexes can be accessed on the Health Department’s West Nile virus Web page at

The West Nile virus continues to spread throughout Missouri and the rest of the country and has been confirmed by laboratory testing in birds collected in Jackson County and two horses in Platte County.

The City is prepared to implement a mosquito control plan that involves the collaborative efforts of the Health Department, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Public Works Department. The Parks and Recreation Department will treat the 23 areas that have been identified as potential mosquito breeding grounds. The Public Works Department will treat areas along City streets with standing water, with priority given to areas determined to be at the highest risk. The City will begin implementation of this plan when the larvicide becomes available.

Citizens should continue to report dead birds by calling the Health Department’s dead bird hotline, (816) 513-6140.

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