LaSalle County begins dead bird surveillance

Dead bird testing includes crows, blue jays and robins

OTTAWA – The LaSalle County Health Department started collecting dead birds on May 1 and will continue the process until Oct. 15. Dead birds are important sentinels for early detection of West Nile virus activity.

West Nile virus generally appears in birds and mosquitoes before it is transmitted to humans. Over the past 17 years, West Nile virus activity has been documented throughout LaSalle County. If you find a dead bird, please contact the health department’s Environmental Health Division at (815) 433-3366. Criteria the health department uses to determine if a bird is eligible to submit for testing includes:

The bird is dead, but the carcass is in good condition. Birds should be dead no more than about 48 hours prior to collection, and should not show signs of advanced decomposition (maggots, strong odor, dried or deflated eyes).

The bird shows no sign it died of causes other than disease. Birds with obvious injuries such as wounds or missing parts should not be submitted for testing. Likewise, crushed carcasses and birds found along roadways are not acceptable.

The bird must be one that is acceptable for testing. At this time the Health Department is only collecting crows, blue jays and robins. To help identify the type of bird, please visit the LaSalle County Health Department website at for bird identification information.

As in past years, health department staff is getting ready to begin testing mosquitoes for West Nile virus. The mosquito collection and testing equipment was purchased with grant money. The health department also utilized the grant money to purchase a large quantity of mosquito larvicide, which is used to treat potential mosquito breeding sites. The larvicide has been distributed to licensed mosquito control applicators from local municipalities and villages throughout the county. Also, during the spring and summer months, health department staff extend outreach efforts to all city, municipal, village, and township officials in the county.

Information on available educational brochures were distributed to local hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, pet shelters, campgrounds, daycares, libraries, and pool supply companies.

For additional information on West Nile virus, please contact the LaSalle County Health Department at (815) 433-3366 or visit our website at


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