DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife asks public to report sick or dead wild birds for West Nile virus monitoring

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Mosquito Control Section is seeking the public’s help in monitoring West Nile virus (WNV) in Delaware by reporting sick or dead wild birds that may have contracted the virus. WNV is a mosquito-transmitted disease of considerable concern to human health and to owners of unvaccinated horses.

DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section requests that the public report sick or dead wild birds of the following species only: crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks, or owls. Clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species should also be reported. Bird specimens should have been dead for less than 24 hours and not appear to have died from other obvious causes. Wild birds collected by Mosquito Control are processed by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry & Animal Health Lab, and then submitted to the Division of Public Health (DPH) Laboratory for virus testing. Uncollected dead wild bird specimens are very unlikely to transmit WNV to humans or pets.

To report sick or dead birds, call Mosquito Control’s field offices between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday:

  • New Castle County and Kent County from Dover north, Glasgow office: 302-836-2555
  • Remainder of Kent County and Sussex County, Milford office: 302-422-1512

From July through mid- to late-October, the Mosquito Control Section also operates a statewide network of about 20 sentinel chicken stations in prime mosquito areas, collecting blood samples to be tested by the DPH Lab for WNV and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), another mosquito-transmitted viral disease that affects humans and horses. The sentinel chicken virus test results help indicate where and when WNV or EEE has been transmitted by mosquitoes from wild bird hosts to other animals, possibly leading to an increased risk of exposure for humans or horses. Neither WNV nor EEE can be transmitted between horses, or from horses to people, or between people.

The period of greatest concern for disease transmission for WNV and EEE is late summer and early fall. WNV is transmitted to humans primarily by the common house mosquito, and possibly by the Asian tiger mosquito. Last year, Delaware had 10 reported WNV-human cases, two of which were fatal. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) logged 2,544 reported WNV-human cases in 2018 that resulted in 137 deaths, 27 of which occurred in our Mid-Atlantic region. In Delaware last year, five WNV-equine cases were reported, in which two unvaccinated horses had to be humanely euthanized.

Residents also are encouraged to call to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes and request control services. Voicemail may be left after hours, or on weekends or holidays.

For more information, call Delaware Mosquito Control’s main office at 302-739-9917, or visit the Mosquito Control web pages.

For more information about West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis in humans, call the Delaware Division of Public Health at 302-744-4990 or 888-295-5156.

For more information about West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis in horses, or horse vaccines, call the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 800-282-8685 (Delaware only) or 302-698-4500.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


DPH Officials Concerned Regarding Increasing Spread of West Nile Virus As They Announce Third Case In a Human

DOVER – Division of Public Health (DPH) officials are concerned about the increasing number of cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in humans this year. DPH is announcing that WNV is confirmed in a 73-year-old New Castle County man, who has been hospitalized since late August. This is the third case of WNV confirmed in humans in the last month. The first case involved a 60-year-old Sussex County man, and the second a 68-year-old New Castle County man. Additionally, DPH is awaiting results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a fourth potential case of the disease. Last week, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced two cases of WNV in horses.

“We are extremely concerned about this situation and are urging people to use insect repellent whenever you go out,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Peak transmission period for West Nile Virus lasts for another six weeks. With people spending more time outside as the temperatures begin to cool down, and for after-school sports, it is vitally important that everyone take this basic step to protect themselves.” While the mosquitoes that cause WNV bite primarily from dusk (evening) to dawn (morning), other mosquitoes that cause diseases such as chikungunya, dengue fever and Zika can bite during the day. The CDC now recommends wearing insect repellent whenever you go out.

WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause serious health problems. WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, generally in summer and fall, with a peak period for disease transmissions from mid-August to mid-October. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not become ill. While only a little less than 20 percent of those infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever with mild symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands), one in 150 people infected will develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis).

Symptoms of severe WNV infection include headache, high fever, stiff neck, and/or tremors and muscle weakness. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Anyone who experiences any of these severe symptoms should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis and possibly death.

Mosquito Bite Prevention:
To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should:

• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication times.

• If using sunscreen, apply it first and insect repellent second.
• Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to the child’s face. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or on cut or irritated skin.

• Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.

• When outside, wear shoes, light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Mosquito netting can protect one’s face and neck, and infants in carriages, strollers and playpens.

• Use permethrin (an insecticide) to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents), but do not apply to skin.

• Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens this year throughout the state. To assist the State’s mosquito control efforts, and to reduce mosquito-breeding habitat for mosquitoes that can transmit WNV, DNREC urges homeowners to practice good water sanitation on their property by eliminating standing water, particularly as might be collected in buckets, containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant bird baths, old tires and unused swimming pools.

While there are no human vaccines against WNV, there are effective vaccines available for horses through licensed veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office.

To report suspected cases of human WNV, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156.

For more information about:
• Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.
• Reporting WNV-suspect wild birds, or for requests for mosquito relief – For upstate areas from Dover north, contact Mosquito Control’s Glasgow field office at 302-836-2555; for downstate areas south of Dover, contact Mosquito Control’s Milford field office at 302-422-1512.
• Animal health questions related to WNV or EEE should be directed to the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).

For more information on what you can do to prevent West Nile Virus, visit the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


DPH Announces Second Human Case of West Nile Virus; Urges Delaware Residents to Avoid Mosquito Bites

DOVER – The Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the state’s second human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2018. The 68-year-old New Castle County man was initially hospitalized in July due to illness, and remains hospitalized due to underlying health conditions unrelated to the virus. WNV, a mosquito-borne illness, can become serious, and DPH reminds people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Earlier this month, DPH announced that a 60-year-old Sussex County man was the first case of WNV this year. In 2017, one case of WNV was confirmed in a Kent County woman, the first such case in two years in Delaware.

“As we begin to see additional cases of West Nile Virus in humans, it is critically important that Delawareans take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “These bites can cause serious health problems, which is why we are urging everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones. Some steps you can take include using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside and using mosquito netting to protect infants in carriages, strollers and playpens.”

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens. Earlier this month, the Mosquito Control Section also found Delaware’s first EEE-positive sentinel chicken for 2018 in a station in Sussex County. Like WNV, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) can adversely affect both humans and horses – EEE is more severe than WNV, but fortunately much rarer. Heightened concerns over possible transmission to humans from both viruses, will continue into mid-October, until cooler temperatures start to significantly slow down both mosquito and virus activity.

To assist the State’s mosquito control efforts, and to reduce mosquito-breeding habitat for mosquitoes that can transmit WNV, DNREC urges homeowners to practice good water sanitation on their property by eliminating standing water, particularly as might be collected in buckets, containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant bird baths, old tires and unused swimming pools.

To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should also:

• When outside, wear shoes, light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants. Mosquito netting can protect one’s face and neck, and infants in carriages, strollers and playpens. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and during the early-morning hours.
• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication times.
• Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
• Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or on cut or irritated skin. Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to the child’s face.
• Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed.

WNV and EEE are transmitted by mosquitoes, generally in summer and fall, with a peak period for disease transmissions from mid-August to mid-October. Although nearly 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not become ill, and only a little less than 20 percent of those infected will develop West Nile fever, with mild symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands), one in 150 people infected will develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis).

Symptoms of severe WNV infection include headache, high fever, stiff neck, and/or tremors and muscle weakness. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Anyone who experiences any of these severe symptoms should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis and possibly death.

Mosquitoes in Delaware also can carry other viruses that may result in death, including dengue virus. Other mosquito-borne diseases that could occur in Delaware include chikungunya and Zika. Chikungunya, while rarely fatal, may result in severe and debilitating symptoms, including fever and joint pain.  The most common symptoms of Zika are rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The largest health impact of the Zika virus appears to be on infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, as well as other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. To date, no cases of Zika in Delaware have been linked with local mosquito or human transmission.

While there are no vaccines against WNV or EEE for humans, effective EEE and West Nile vaccines are available for horses through veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office. Both WNV and EEE cause severe, and sometimes fatal, infections in horses. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.

To report suspected cases of human WNV, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156.

For more information about:
• Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.

• Reporting WNV-suspect wild birds, or for requests for mosquito relief – For upstate areas from Dover north, contact Mosquito Control’s Glasgow field office at 302-836-2555; for downstate areas south of Dover, contact Mosquito Control’s Milford field office at 302-422-1512.

• WNV or EEE in horses and equine vaccines – Contact the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).

For more information on West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis – Visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.

 

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section announces year’s first finding of West Nile virus in wild birds

DOVER – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section, in conjunction with Delaware’s Division of Public Health and Department of Agriculture, has announced the first detection this year of West Nile virus (WNV) in wild birds, indicating the recurrence of this mosquito-borne disease in Delaware. WNV was detected in the first wild bird collected and tested by Mosquito Control this year, a crow found June 29 in southwestern Sussex County, and reported as WNV-positive July 5 by the Public Health Laboratory. Another crow collected in Sussex County also was reported as WNV-positive four days later.

The peak time of year for transmission of WNV, along with Delaware’s other mosquito-borne disease of concern, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), is from about mid-August into mid-October. During most years, evidence of WNV is first found upstate later in the season.

“Heavy rainfall amounts three times above normal from mid-May to mid-June caused a serious irruption of adult mosquitoes statewide, with conditions worse downstate than upstate,” said Mosquito Control Section Administrator Dr. William Meredith with DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. “But with extensive aerial spraying, we have now knocked back mosquito numbers in Delaware. We are hoping this early virus detection does not foreshadow abnormal mosquito-borne disease activity later in the year.”

The first finding of mosquito-transmitted virus in Delaware also serves as a good reminder for people to continue taking common-sense precautions against mosquito bites. These include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, applying insect repellent containing 10-30 percent DEET in accordance with all label instructions, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the night. The possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmissions will not subside until cooler autumn temperatures set in, usually in mid-October and sometimes later.

To reduce mosquito-breeding habitat and chances of disease transmission, residents should drain or remove from outdoor areas all items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trashcans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, corrugated downspout extenders and unused swimming pools.

In addition to wild bird testing, the Mosquito Control Section also operates 20 monitoring stations with caged chickens in the field statewide from early July into October. The sentinel chickens are humanely kept and tended. Sentinel chickens bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV or EEE develop antibodies that enable them to survive, with both WNV or EEE affecting humans and horses, but which cannot be transmitted between horses or from horses to people. Chicken blood from each monitoring station is tested every week for the antibodies, which indicate exposure to the mosquito-borne viruses. Mosquito Control also conducts statewide monitoring to determine the types and population abundances of the 19 mosquito species of most concern through a statewide network of 25 stationary adult light trap stations, and assesses larval mosquito populations by sampling aquatic habitats around the state.

No approved WNV or EEE vaccines are available for humans, according to Delaware’s Division of Public Health. The majority of people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms; 20 percent develop a mild illness, which may include fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash. A small number of people infected develop serious illness, with young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and individuals with immuno-compromised systems being particularly vulnerable. Neurological symptoms including paralysis and possibly death may occur.

Effective EEE and West Nile vaccines are available for horses through veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office. Both WNV and EEE cause severe, and sometimes fatal, infections in horses. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.

Horse owners can take several steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from WNV and EEE. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes. Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every 2-3 days if possible to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.

For more information about:

  • Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.
  • Reporting WNV-suspect wild birds, or for requests for mosquito relief – For upstate areas from Dover north, contact Mosquito Control’s Glasgow field office at 302-836-2555; for downstate areas south of Dover, contact Mosquito Control’s Milford field office at 302-422-1512.
  • WNV or EEE in humans and related medical issues – Contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 888-295-5156.
  • WNV or EEE in horses and equine vaccines – Contact the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).
  • For more information on West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis – Visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 187

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Public asked to report sick or dead wild birds to DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section for 2018 West Nile virus monitoring

The logo for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ControlDOVER – DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section within the Division of Fish & Wildlife is seeking the public’s help in monitoring West Nile virus in Delaware by reporting sick or dead wild birds that may have contracted the virus. West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease of considerable concern to human health and to owners of unvaccinated horses.

The Mosquito Control Section requests that the public report sick or dead birds of the following species only: crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks or owls, plus clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species. Bird specimens should have been dead for less than 24 hours and not appear to have died from other obvious causes. Mosquito Control also notes that uncollected dead wild bird specimens are very unlikely to transmit WNV to humans or pets.

“We are again tracking when and where West Nile virus might appear in Delaware this year and monitoring its possible spread throughout the state,” said Dr. William Meredith, Mosquito Control Section administrator, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife. “Our sampling strategy is to collect and test birds from now into late September.”

Birds collected by DNREC are processed by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry & Animal Health Lab, and then submitted to the Division of Public Health (DPH) Laboratory for virus testing. From July through mid- to late-October, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section also operates a statewide network of about 20 sentinel chicken stations in prime mosquito areas. The DPH lab tests blood samples from the sentinel chickens for WNV and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), another mosquito-borne viral disease that affects humans and horses. The results help indicate where WNV or EEE has been transmitted by mosquitoes from wild bird hosts to other animals, possibly leading to an increased risk of exposure for humans or horses. Neither WNV nor EEE can be transmitted between horses or from horses to people.

The period of greatest concern for disease transmission for WNV and EEE is late summer and early fall. WNV is transmitted to humans primarily by the common house mosquito, and possibly by the Asian tiger mosquito. The disease first appeared in Delaware in 2001. Last year, Delaware had one human case and two equine cases, with the last cases of EEE detected in two horses in 2013. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) logged 2,022 reported human cases of WNV last year resulting in 121 deaths, 10 of which occurred in our region.

Four other mosquito-borne diseases of concern that can occur in Delawareans are malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya and Zika viruses. Cases of these four diseases are almost always found in travelers returning from tropical or sub-tropical regions where these illnesses are more prevalent. None involve wild birds as hosts, but rather are transmitted by mosquitoes from person-to-person.

To report sick or dead birds, call Mosquito Control’s field offices between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday:

  • New Castle County and Kent County from Dover north, Glasgow office: 302-836-2555
  • Remainder of Kent County and Sussex County, Milford office: 302-422-1512

Residents also are encouraged to call to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes and request control services. Voicemail may be left after hours, or on weekends or holidays.

For more information, call Delaware Mosquito Control’s main office at 302-739-9917, or click Delaware Mosquito Control.

For more information about West Nile virus in humans, call the Delaware Division of Public Health at 302-744-4990 or 888-295-5156.

For more information about West Nile virus in horses, Eastern equine encephalitis, or vaccines, call the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 800-282-8685 (Delaware only) or 302-698-4500.

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 146