Churchill magpie tests positive for West Nile Virus |

Churchill magpie tests positive for West Nile Virus

Staff report

A magpie from Fallon has opened this year’s West Nile Virus season. Swabs from the bird were submitted to the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease and Food Safety Laboratory by a Nevada Department of Wildlife employee. This first finding of viral activity comes weeks earlier than in 2006.

Last year the first positive bird was also a magpie from Churchill County, which was tested June 21. One day earlier, a mosquito pool from Lyon County had been identified as the first positive specimen of Nevada’s 2006 West Nile Virus season.

All of the more than 230 mosquito pools from several counties that have been tested this year have been negative. Last year, 153 of 2,620 mosquito pools and 43 of 125 birds submitted to the lab tested positive.

Donna Rise, director of Nevada Department of Agriculture, said, “Our Animal Disease & Food Safety Laboratory is one of the best in the Western United States. We were set up for early sampling and are a little surprised the first Nevada positive was three weeks earlier than 2006.”

Dr. Bradford Lee, Nevada State health officer, strongly urges Nevadans to practice preventive measures.

“Last year there were 123 lab confirmed cases of West Nile Virus and many people developed serious illness.

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“Unfortunately, one individual died due to complications associated with the virus,” he said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of everyone, especially people 50 years and older, to use repellent containing DEET and wear long sleeves, pants and socks when outside, especially during dawn and dusk. Also, remove any standing water from around your house and check to make sure your window screens fit properly.”